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IN PRESS, 



THE MOTHER'S BOOK, 

BY MRS. CHILD. 

Third Edition, with Corrections and Additions. 



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LETTERS 



FROM 



NEW YORK. 



BY L. MARIA CHILD, 

AUTHOR OF THE MOTHER'S BOOK, THE GIRl/S BOOK, PHILOTHEA, HISTORY 

OF "WOMEN, etC. 



We receive but what we give, 
And in our life alone does Nature live : 
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud ! 

And would we aught hehold of higher worth 
Than that inanimate cold world, allowed 
To the poor loveless ever -anxious crowd, 

Ah, from the soul itself must issue fortli 
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud, 

Enveloping the Earth : 
And from the soul itself must there be sent 

A sweet and potent voice of its own birth, 
Of all sweet sounds the life and element ! 

Coleridge- 



Second Htrflfon. 



NEW YORK: 

C. S. FRANCIS AND COMPANY, 252 BROADWAY. 

AND 

JOSEPH H. FRANCIS, 128 WASHINGTON STREET, BOSTON. 
M DCCC XLIV. 



Entered according to art of Congress, in the year 1843, 

By CON VERS FRANCIS, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York* 



Printed by 
MCNROE & FRANCIS, 

Boston. 



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION. 

In less than four months, an edition of fifteen hundred 
copies of this book has sold, and several hundred more 
have been called for. This is great success, at a period 
when, the world is so deluged with cheap publications. 

I cordially thank the public for the hearty welcome 
they have given this unpretending volume. I rejoice in 
it as a new proof that whatsoever is simple, sincere, and 
earnest, will find its way to the hearts of men. It is 
these characteristics, and not the amount of talent in its 
pages, which have made the book popular ; and there- 
fore I frankly say that I rejoice in its popularity. May 
it continue to perform its destined mission of helping hu- 
man souls to be truthful and free. 

L. MARIA CHILD. 



TO 

JOHN HOPPER. 

These pages are so deeply tinged with romance 
and mysticism, that they might seem an unfit of- 
fering to one who has the crowning merit of the 
19th century — that of being a courteous and en- 
ergetic 'business man.' But in a city of strangers 
you have been to me as a brother ; most of the scenes 
mentioned in these Letters we have visited togeth- 
er ; and I know that the young lawyer, busily mak- 
ing his way in a crowded world, has not driven 
from his mind a love for nature and poetry, or closed 
his heart against avmost genial sympathy for the 
whole family of man. Therefore, this volume is 
inscribed to you, with grateful friendship, by 

THE AUTHOR. 



1# 



CONTENTS. 



LETTER I. 

PAGE. 

The battery in the Morning. Streets of Modern Babylon. 
Street Musicians 13 



LETTER II. 

Washington Temperance Society. Law of Love, and the 
Law of Force. Trusting each other's Honesty. The Dog- 
Killers 17 

LETTER III. 

Sectarian Walls. Ideas of God. The Poor Woman's Garden. 
Society makes the Crime it Punishes 23 

LETTER IV. 
Hoboken. Weehawken. Hamilton's Duel. Indian Sarcasm. 27 

LETTER V. 
Highland Benovolent Society. Clans and Sects. . . 33 

LETTER VI. 

The Jews. Black Jews. Old Clothes. Reading by Lamp- 
light in the Day-time 37 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

LETTER VII. 

PAGE. 

Rev. John Summerfield. The Farmer Crazed by Speculators. 
Greenwood Cemetery. Wearing Mourning. ... 47 



LETTER VIII. 

The Shipping. Story of the Yankee Boy and his Acorn. The 
Kamschatka and Belle Foule 52 



LETTER IX. 
Ravenswood. Grant Thorburn. Lawrie Todd. ... 61 

LETTER X. 

Varieties of Character, and Changing Population of New York. 
Anecdote of Absent Men. The Bagpipe Player. Beautiful 
Burial of a Stranger in the Western Forest. ... 08 

LETTER XI. 

The Eloquent Coloured Preacher. Story of Zeek, the Shrewd 
Slave. 73 

LETTER XII. 

The New Year. Past and Future. Music written by Vibra- 
tion. Caution to Reformers 82 

LETTER XIII. 

Scenery within the Soul. Valley de Sham. Truth in Act as 
well as Word 88 

LETTER XIV. 

Little Newspaper Boy. The Foreign Boys and their Mother. 
The Drunken Woman. Burying-ground for the Poor. . 94 



CONTENTS. IX 

LETTER XV. 



PACE. 



McDonald Clarke 10L 

LETTER XVI. 
A Great Fire. Jane Plato's Garden. Money is not Wealth. 110 

LETTER XVII. 

Doves in Broadway. The Dove and the Pirate. Prisoners and 
Doves. Doddridge's Dream. Genius Inspired by Holiness. 115 

LETTER XVIII. 

Origin of Manhattan. Antiquities of New York. David Rey- 
nolds. The Fish and the Ring 121 

LETTER XIX. 

Animal Magnetism. The Soul watching its own Body. Anec- 
dote of Second Sight 130 

LETTER XX. 

The Birds. Anecdote of Petion's Daughter. The Bird, the 
Snake and the White Ash. The Spanish Parrot. My Swal- 
lows 137 

LETTER XXI. 
Staten Island. Sailors' Snug Harbour 145 

LETTER XXII. 
The Non-Resisting Colony 149 

LETTER XXIII. 

The Florida Slave-Trader and Patriarch. Boswell's Remarks 
on the Slave-Trade. The Fixed Point of View. . . 153 



X CONTENTS. 

LETTER XXIV. 

FACE. 

The Red Roof. The Little Child Picking a Clover Blossom. 
Music and Fire-Works at Castle Garden. . . .162 

LETTER XXV. 
Rockland Lake. Major Andre. The Dutch Fanners. . 169 

LETTER XXVI. 
Flowers. All Being is Spirally Interlinked. . . . 179 

LETTER XXVII. 

Music and Light. Instrument Invented by Guzikow. Music 
of the Planets. The Burning Bell-Tower of Hamburg. Mys- 
terious Music in Pascagoula Bay. The Mocking Bird and 
the Bob-o'-Link. The Response of Musical Instruments to 
each other 184 

LETTER XXVIII. 

The Little Match-Seller. Beautiful Anecdote of a Street Mu- 
sician. Anecdote of a Spanish Donkey. Horses Tamed by 
Kindness. The one Voice which brought Discord into Har- 
mony 193 

LETTER XXIX. 

Blackwell's Island. Long Island Farms. Anecdote from Syl- 
vio Pellico. A Model Almshouse among the Society of 
Friends 199 

LETTER XXX. 

Croton Water. The Fountains Fear of Public Opinion. Social 
Freedom. The Little Boy that run away from Providence. 212 

LETTER XXXI. 

Capital Punishment. Conversation with William Ladd. Cir- 
cumstantial Evidence 220 



CONTENTS. XI 

LETTER XXXII. 

PAGE. 

Mercy to Criminals. Mrs. Fry's Answer. Love-tokens from 
Friends. Made Good by being Beloved ; a still higher joy to 
love others. ......... 231 

LETTER XXXIII. 

The Catholic Church. Puseyism. Worship of Irish Labour- 
ers. Anecdotes of the Irish. ...... 237 

LETTER XXXIV. 
Woman's Rights 244 

LETTER XXXV. 
Lightning. Daguerreotype. Electricity. Effects of Climate. 253 

LETTER XXXVI. 
The Indians 260 

LETTER XXXVII. 
Green Old Age Swedenborg and Fourier. . . . 270 

LETTER XXXVIII. 

The Snow Storm. The Cold-footed and Warm-hearted Little 
Ones 274 

LETTER XXXIX. 
The Ministrations of Sorrow 279 

LETTER XL. 

May-Day in New-York. The Storks of Nuremberg. All the 
Nations are Brethren. ...... 283 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



LETTER I. 



August 19, 1841. 

You ask what is now my opinion of this great 
Babylon ; and playfully remind me of former phil- 
ippics, and a long string of vituperative alliterations, 
such as magnificence and mud, finery and filth, di- 
amonds and dirt, bullion and brass-tape, &c. &c. 
Nor do you forget my first impression of the city, 
when we arrived at early dawn, amid fog and driz- 
zling rain, the expiring lamps adding their smoke to 
the impure air, and close beside us a boat called the 
1 Fairy Queen,' laden with dead hogs. 

\\ eilj Babylon remains the same as then. The 
din of crowded life, and the eager chase for gain, still 
run through its streets, like the perpetual murmur 
of a hive. Wealth dozes on French couches, thrice 
piled, and canopied with damask, while Poverty 
camps on the dirty pavement, or sleeps off its wretch- 
edness in the watch-house. There, amid the splen- 
dor of Broadway, sits the blind negro beggar, with 
horny hand and tattered garments, while opposite to 
him stands the stately mansion of the slave trader, 
still plying his bloody trade, and laughing to scorn 
the cobweb laws, through which the strong can break 
so easily. 

In Wall-street, and elsewhere, Mammon, as usual, 
coolly calculates his chance of extracting a penny 
from war, pestilence, and famine ; and Commerce, 

2 



14 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

with her loaded drays, and jaded skeletons of horses, 
is busy as ever fulfilling the c World's contract with 
the Devil.' The noisy discord of the street-cries 
gives no ear, no rest : and the weak voice of weary 
childhood often makes the heart ache for the poor 
little wanderer, prolonging his task far into the hours 
of night. Sometimes, the harsh sounds are pleasant- 
ly varied by some feminine voice, proclaiming in mu- 
sical cadence, ' Hot corn ! hot corn !' with the poetic 
addition of ' Lily white corn ! Buy my lily white 
corn 1' When this sweet, wandering voice salutes 
my ear, my heart replies — 

'Tis a glancing gleam o' the gift of song — 
And the soul that speaks hath suffered wrong. 

There ivas a time when all these things would 
have passed by me like the flitting figures of the 
magic lantern, or the changing scenery of a theatre, 
sufficient for the amusement of an hour. But now, 
I have lost the power of looking merely on the sur- 
face. Every thing seems to me to come from the In- 
finite, to be filled with the Infinite, to be tending to- 
ward the Infinite. Do I see crowds of men hastening 
to extinguish a fire ? I see not merely uncouth garbs, 
and fantastic, flickering lights of lurid hue, like a 
tramping troop of gnomes, — but straightway my 
mind is filled with thoughts about mutual helpful- 
ness T human sympathy, the common bond of broth- 
erhood, and the mysteriously deep foundations 015 
which society rests ■ or rather, on which it now reels 
and totters. 

But I am cutting the lines deep, when I meant on- 
ly to give you an airy, unfinished sketch. I will an- 
swer your question, by saying that, though New York 
remains the same, I like it better. This is partly be- 
cause I am like the Lady's Delight, ever prone to 
take root, and look up with a smile, in whatever soil 
you place it ; and partly because bloated disease, and 
black gutters,, and pigs uglier than their ugly kind, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 15 

no longer constitute the foreground in my picture of 
New York. I have become more familiar with the 
pretty parks, dotted about here and there; with the 
shaded alcoves of the various public gardens; with 
blooming nooks, and 'sunny spots of greenery.' I 
am fast inclining to the belief, that the Battery rivals 
our beautiful Boston Common. The fine old trees 
are indeed wanting; but the newly-planted groves 
offer the light, flexile gracefulness of youth, to com- 
pete with their matured majesty of age. In extent, 
and variety of surface, this noble promenade is great- 
ly inferior to ours ; but there is 

1 The «ea, the sea, the open sea ; 
The fresh, the bright, the ever free 1 .' 

Most fitting symbol of the Infinite, this traekless 
pathway of a world ! heaving and stretching to meet 
the sky it never reaches — like the eager, unsatisfied 
aspirations of the human soul The most beautiful 
landscape is imperfect without this feature. In the 
eloquent language of Lamartine. ' The sea is to the 
scenes of nature what the eye is to a fine counte- 
nance ; it illuminates them, it imparts to them that 
radiant physiognomy, which makes them live, speak, 
enchant, and fascinate the attention of those who 
contemplate them.' 

If you deem me heretical in preferring the Battery 
to the Common, consecrated by so many pleasant as- 
sociations of my youth, I know you will forgive me, 
if you will go there in the silence of midnight, to 
meet the breeze on your cheek, like the kiss of a 
friend ; to hear the continual plashing of the sea, like 
the cool sound of oriental fountains ; to see the moon 
look lovingly on the sea-nymphs, and throw down 
wealth of jewels on their shining hair ; to look on 
the ships in their dim and distant beauty, each con- 
taining within itself, a little world of human thought, 
and human passion. Or go, when ' night, with her 
thousand eyes, looks down into the heart, making it 



16 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

also great' — when she floats above us, dark and sol- 
emn, and scarcely sees her image in the black mirror 
of the ocean. The city lamps surround you, like a 
shining belt of descended constellations, fit for the 
zone of Urania; while the pure bright stars peep 
through the dancing foliage, and speak to the soul of 
thoughtful shepherds on the ancient plains of Chal- 
dea. And there, like mimic Fancy, playing fantas- 
tic freaks in the very presence of heavenly Imagina- 
tion, stands Castle Garden — with its gay perspective 
of colored lamps, like a fairy grotto, where impris- 
oned fire-spirits send up sparkling wreaths, or rock- 
ets laden with glittering ear-drops, caught by the 
floating sea-nymphs, as they fall. 

But if you would see the Battery in cdl its glory y 
look at it when, through the misty mantle of retreat- 
ing dawn, is seen the golden light of the rising sun ! 
Look at the horizon, where earth, sea, and sky, kiss 
each other, in robes of reflected glory ! The ships 
stretch their sails to the coming breeze, and glide ma- 
jestically along — fit and graceful emblems of the Past; 
steered by Necessity; the Will constrained by out- 
ward Force. Quick as a flash, the steamboat passes 
them by — its rapidly revolving wheel made golden 
by the sunlight, and dropping diamonds to the laugh- 
ing Nereids, profusely as pearls from Prince Ester- 
hazy' s embroidered coat. In that steamer, see you 
not an appropriate type of the busy, powerful, self- 
conscious Present 1 Of man's Will conquering out- 
ward Force ; and thus making the elements his ser- 
vants ? 

From this southern extremity of the city, ancient- 
ly called ' The Wall of the Half-Moon,' you may, 
if you like, pass along the Bowery to Bloomingdale, 
on the north. What a combination of flowery sounds 
to take captive the imagination ! It is a pleasant 
road, much used for fashionable drives ; but the love- 
ly names scarcely keep the promise they give the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 17 

ear ; especially to one accustomed to the beautiful 
environs of Boston. 

During your ramble, you may meet wandering 
musicians. Perhaps a poor Tyrolese with his street- 
organ, or a Scotch lad, with shrill bag-pipe, decorated 
with tartan ribbons. Let them who will, despise 
their humble calling. Small skill, indeed, is needed 
to grind forth that machinery of sounds ; but my 
heart salutes them with its benison, in common with 
all things that cheer this weary world. I have little 
sympathy with the severe morality that drove these 
tuneful idlers from the streets of Boston. They are 
to the drudging city, what Spring birds are to the 
country. This world has passed from its youthful, 
Troubadour Age, into the thinking, toiling Age of 
Reform. This we may not regret, because it needs 
must be. But welcome, most welcome, all that brings 
back reminiscences of its childhood, in the cheering 
voice of poetry and song. 

Therefore blame me not, if I turn wearily aside 
from the dusty road o[ reforming duty, to gather 
flowers in sheltered nooks, or play with gems in hid- 
den grottoes. The Practical has striven hard to suf- 
focate the Ideal within me; but it is immortal, and 
cannot die. It needs but a glance of Beauty from 
earth or sky, and it starts into bloom and life, like 
the aloe touched by fairy wand. 



LETTER II. 

August 21, 1841. 

You think my praises of the Battery exaggerated ; 
perhaps they are so ; but there are three points on 
which I am crazy — music, moonlight, and the sea. 
There are other points, greatly differing from these, 
on which most American juries would be prone to 
convict me of insanity. You know a New- York 
2 # 



18 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

lawyer defined insanity to be ' a differing in opinion 
from the mass of mankind.' By this rule, I am as 
mad as a March hare ; though, as Andrew Fairser- 
vice said, ' why a hare should be more mad in March 
than at Michaelmas, is more than I ken.' 

I admit that Boston, in her extensive and airy 
Common, possesses a blessing unrivalled by any oth- 
er city ; but I am not the less disposed to be thankful 
for the circumscribed, but well-shaded , limits of the 
Washington Parade Ground, and Union Park, with 
its nicely- trimmed circle of hedge, its well-rolled 
gravel walks, and its velvet greensward, shaven as 
smooth as a Quaker beau. The exact order of its 
arrangement would be offensive in the country; and 
even here, the eye of taste would prefer variations, 
and undulation of outline ; but trimness seems more 
in place in a city, than amid the graceful confusion 
of nature ; and neatness has a charm in New-York, 
by reason of its exceeding rarity. St. John's Park, 
though not without pretensions to beauty, never 
strikes my eye agreeably, because it is shut up from 
the people ; the key being kept by a few genteel fam- 
ilies in the vicinity. You know I am an enemy to 
monopolies; wishing all Heaven's good gifts to man 
to be as free as the wind, and as universal as the 
sunshine. 

I like the various small gardens in New- York, with 
their shaded alcoves of lattice-work, where one can 
eat an ice-cream, shaded from the sun. You have 
none such in Boston ; and they would probably be 
objected to, as open to the vulgar and the vicious. I 
do not walk through the world with such fear of soil- 
ing my garments. Let science, literature, music, 
flowers, all things that tend to cultivate the intellect, 
or humanize the heart, be open to ' Tom, Dick, and 
Harry;' and thus, in process of time, they will be- 
come Mr. Thomas, Richard, and Henry. In all 
these things, the refined should think of what they 
can impart, not of what they can receive. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 19 

As for the vicious, they excite in me more of com- 
passion than dislike. The Great Searcher of Hearts 
alone knows whether I should not have been as they 
are, with the same neglected childhood, the same vi- 
cious examples, the same overpowering temptation 
of misery and want. If they will but pay to virtue 
the outward homage of decorum, God forbid that I 
should wish to exclude them from the healthful 
breeze, and the shaded promenade. Wretched e- 
nough are they in their utter degradation ; nor is so- 
ciety so guiltless of their ruin, as to justify any of 
its members in unpitying scorn. 

And this reminds me that in this vast emporium 
of poverty and crime, there are, morally speaking, 
some flowery nooks, and ' sunny spots of greenery.' 
I used to say, I knew not where were the ten right- 
eous men to save the city ; but I have found them 
now. Since then, the Washington Temperance So- 
ciety has been organized, and active in good works. 
Apart from the physical purity, the triumph of soul 
over sense, implied in abstinence from stimulating 
liquors, these societies have peculiarly interested me, 
because they are based on the Law of Love. The 
Pure is inlaid in the Holy, like a pearl set in fine 
gold. Here is no ' fiteen-gallon-law,' no attendance 
upon the lobbies of legislatures, none of the bustle 
or manoeuvres of political party ; measures as use- 
less in the moral world, as machines to force water 
above its level are in the physical world. Serenely 
above all these, stands this new Genius of Temper- 
ance ; her trust in Heaven, her hold on the human 
heart. To the fallen and the perishing she throws a 
silken cord, and gently draws him within the golden 
circle of human brotherhood. She has learned that 
persuasion is mightier than coercion, that the voice 
of encouragement finds an echo in the heart deeper, 
far deeper, than the thunder of reproof. 

The blessing of the perishing, and of the merciful 
God, who cares for them, will rest upon the Wash- 



20 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ington Temperance Society. A short time since, one 
of its members found an old acquaintance lying asleep 
in a dirty alley, scarcely covered with filthy rags, 
pinned and tied together. Being waked, the poor 
fellow exclaimed, in piteous tones, ' don't take me 
to the Police Office — Please don't take me there.' 
' O, no,' replied the missionary of mercy ; ' you shall 
have shoes to your feet, and a decent coat on your 
back, and be a Man again ! We have better work 
for you to do, than to lie in prison. You will be a 
Temperance preacher yet.' 

lie was comfortably clothed, kindly encouraged, 
and employment procured for him at the printing of- 
fice of the Washington Society. He now works 
steadily all day, and preaches temperance in the eve- 
ning. Every week I hear of similar instances. Are 
not these men enough to save a city ? This Society 
is one among several powerful agencies now at work, 
to teach society that it makes its own criminals, and 
then, at prodigious loss of time, money, and morals, 
punishes its own work. 

The other day, I stood by the wayside while a 
Washingtonian procession, two miles long, passed by. 
All classes and trades were represented, with appro- 
priate music and banners. Troops of boys carried 
little wells and pumps; and on many of the banners 
were flowing fountains and running brooks. One 
represented a wife kneeling in gratitude for a hus- 
band restored to her and himself; on another, a group 
of children were joyfully embracing the knees of a 
reformed father. Fire companies were there with 
badges and engines ; and military companies, with 
gaudy colors and tinsel trappings. Toward the close, 
came two barouches, containing the men who first 
started a Temperance Society on the Washingtonian 
plan. These six individuals were a carpenter, a 
coach-maker, a tailor, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, 
and a silver- plater. They held their meetings in a 
carpenter's shop, in Baltimore, before any other per- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



21 



son took an active part in the reform. My heart paid 
them reverence, as they passed. It was a beautiful 
pageant, and but one thing was wanting to make it 
complete ; there should have been carts drawn by 
garlanded oxen, filled with women and little children, 
bearing a banner, on which was inscribed, we are 
happy now ! I missed the women and the children ; 
for without something to represent the genial influ- 
ence of domestic life, the circle of joy and hope is 
ever incomplete. 

But the absent ones were present to my mind; and 
the pressure of many thoughts brought tears to my 
eyes. I seemed to see John the Baptist preparing a 
pathway through the wilderness for the coming of 
the Holiest : for like unto his is this mission of tem- 
perance. Clean senses are fitting vessels for pure af- 
fections and lofty thoughts. 

Within the outward form I saw, as usual, spiritual 
significance. As the bodies of men were becoming 
weaned from stimulating drinks, so were their souls 
beginning to approach those pure fountains of living 
water, which refresh and strengthen, but never in- 
toxicate. The music, too, was revealed to me in ful- 
ness of meaning. Much of it was of a military char- 
acter, and cheered onward to combat and to victory. 
Everything about war I loathe and detest, except its 
music. My heart leaps at the trumpet-call, and 
marches with the drum. Because I cannot ever hate 
it, I know that it is the utterance of something good, 
perverted to a ministry of sin. It is the voice of re- 
sistance to evil, of combat with the false ; therefore 
the brave soul springs forward at the warlike tone, 
for in it is heard a call to its appointed mission. 
Whoso does not see that genuine life is a battle and 
a march, has poorly read his origin and his destiny. 
Let the trumpet sound, and the drums roll ! Glory to 
resistance ! for through its agency men become angels. 
The instinct awakened by martial music is noble and 
true ; and therefore its voice will not pass away ; but 



22 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

it will cease to represent war with carnal weapons, 
and remain a type of that spiritual combat, whereby 
the soul was purified. It is right noble to fight with 
"wickedness and wrong ; the mistake is in supposing 
that spiritual evil can be overcome by physical means. 

Would that Force were banished to the unholy re- 
gion, whence it came, and that men would learn to 
trust more fully in the law of kindness. I think of 
this, every time I pass a dozing old woman, who, from 
time immemorial, has sat behind a fruit stall at the 
corner of St. Paul's Church. Half the time she is 
asleep, and the wonder is that any fruit remains upon 
her board ; but in this wicked city very many of the 
boys deposit a cent, as they take an apple ; for they 
have not the heart to wrong one v)ho trusts them. 

A sea-captain of my acquaintance, lately returned 
from China, told me that the Americans" and English 
were much more trusted by the natives, than their 
own countrymen ; that the fact of belonging to those 
nations was generally considered good security in a 
bargain. I expressed surprise at this ; not supposing 
the Yankees, or their ancestors, were peculiarly dis- 
tinguished for generosity in trade. He replied, that 
they were more so in China than at home ; because, 
in the absence of adequate laws, and legal penalties, 
they had acquired the habit of trusting in each oth- 
ers 1 honor and honesty ; and this formed a bond so 
sacred, that few were willing to break it. I saw deep 
significance in the fact. 

Speaking of St. Paul's Church, near the Astor 
House, reminds me of the fault so often found by for- 
eigners with our light grey stone as a material for 
Gothic edifices. Though the church is not Gothic, 
I now understand why such buildings contrast disad- 
vantageous^ with the dark-colored cathedrals of Eu- 
rope. St. Pauls has lately been covered with a ce- 
ment of dark, reddish-brown sand. Some complain 
that it looks ' like gingerbread;' but for myself, I 
greatlylike the depth of color. Its steeple now stands 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 23 

relieved against the sky, with a sombre grandeur 
which would be in admirable keeping with the mas- 
sive proportions of Gothic architecture. Grey and 
slate color appropriately belong to lighter styles of 
building; applied to the Gothic, they become like 
tragic tlwughts uttered in mirthful tones. 

The disagreeables of New York, I deliberately 
mean to keep out of sight, when I write to you. By 
contemplating beauty, the character becomes beauti- 
ful ; and in this wearisome world, I deem it a duty 
to speak genial words, and wear cheerful looks. 

Yet, for once, I will depart from this rule, to speak 
of the dog-killers. Twelve or fifteen hundred of 
these animals have been killed this summer ; in the 
hottest of the weather at the rate of three hundred a 
day. The safety of the city doubtless requires their 
expulsion ; but the manner oi it. strikes me as exceed- 
ingly cruel and demoralizing. The poor creatures are 
knocked down on the pavement, and beat to death. 
Sometimes they are horribly maimed, and run howl- 
ing and limping away. The company of dog-killers 
themselves are a frightful sight, with their bloody 
clubs, and spattered garments. I always run from 
the window when I hear them ; for they remind me 
of the Reign of Terror. Whether such brutal scenes 
do not prepare th,e minds of the young to take part 
in bloody riots and revolutions is a serious question. 

You promised to take my letters as they happened 
to come — fanciful, gay, or serious. I am in autum- 
nal mood to-day, therefore forgive the sobriety of my 
strain. 



LETTER III. 

September 2, 1841. 

Oh, these damp, sultry days of August ! how op- 
pressive they are to mind and body ! The sun star- 
ing at you from bright red walls, like the shining 



24 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

face of a heated cook. Strange to say, they are 
painted red, blocked off with white compartments, as 
numerous as Protestant sects, and as unlovely in 
their narrowness. What an expenditure for ugliness 
and discomfort to the eye ! To paint bricks their 
own color, resembles the great outlay of time and 
money in theological schools, to enable dismal, arbi- 
trary souls to give an approved image of themselves 
in their ideas of Deity. 

After all, the God within us is the God we really 
believe in, whatever we may have learned in cate- 
chisms or creeds. 

Hence to some, the divine image presents itself 
habitually as a dark, solemn shadow, saddening the 
gladsomeness of earth, like thunder-clouds reflected 
on the fair mirror of the sea. To others, the relig- 
ious sentiment is to the soul what Spring is in the 
seasons, flowers to the eye, and music to the ear. In 
the greatest proportion of minds these sentiments are 
mixed, and therefore two images are reflected, one to 
be worshipped with love, the other with fear. 

Hence, in Catholic countries, you meet at one cor- 
ner of the road frightfully painted hell-fires, into 
which poor struggling human souls are sinking ; and 
at another, the sweet Madonna, with her eye of pity 
and her lip of love. Whenever God appears to the 
eye of faith as terrible in power, and stern in ven- 
geance, the soul craves some form of mediation, and 
satisfies its want. As the reprobate college-boy trusts 
to a mother's persuasive love to intercede for him 
with an angry father, so does the Catholic, terrified 
with visions of torment, look up trustingly to the 
' Blessed mother, Virgin mild.' 

Not lightly, or scornfully, would I speak of any 
such manifestations of faith, childish as they may 
appear to the eye of reason. The Jewish dispensa- 
tion was announced in thunder and lightning ; the 
Christian, by a chorus of love from angel voices. 
The dark shadow of the one has fearfully thrown it- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 25 

self across the mild radiance of the other. Those old 
superstitious times could not well do otherwise than 
mix their dim theology with the new-born glorious 
hope. Well may we rejoice that they could not trans- 
mit the blessed Idea completely veiled in gloom. 
Since the Past will overlap upon the Present, and 
therefore Christianity must slowly evolve itself from 
Judaim, let us at least be thankful that, 
1 From the same grim turret fell 
The shadow and the song? 

Whence came all this digression ? It has as little 
to do with New- York, as a seraph has to do with 
Hanks and Markets. Yet in good truth, it all came 
from a painted brick wall staring in at my chamber 
window. What a strange thing is the mind ! How 
marvellously is the infinite embodied in the smallest 
fragment of the finite ! 

It was ungrateful in me to complain of those walls, 
for I am more blest in my prospect than most inhab- 
itants of cities ; even without allowing for the fact 
that, more than most others, I always see much 
within a landscape — ' a light and a revealing,' every 
where. 

Opposite to me is a little, little, patch of garden, 
trimly kept, and neatly white-washed. In the ab- 
sence of rippling brooks and blooming laurel, I am 
thankful for its marigolds and poppies, 

' side by side, 

And at each end a hollyhock, 
With an edge of London Pride.' 

And then between me and the sectarian brick wall, 
there are, moreover, two beautiful young trees. An 
Ailanthus, twisting its arms lovingly within its smal- 
ler sister Catalpa. One might almost imagine them 
two lovely nymphs suddenly transformed to trees in 
the midst of a graceful, twining dance. I should be 
half reluctant to cut a cluster of the beautiful crimson 
seed-vessels, lest I should wound the finger of some 
Hamadryad, 3 



26 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

1 Those simple crown -twisters, 
Who of one favorite tree in some sweet spot, 
Make home and leave it not.-' 

But I must quit this strain ; or you will say the 
fair, floating Grecian shadow casts itself too obvious- 
ly over my Christianity. Perchance, you will even 
call me ' transcendental ; ' that being a word of most 
elastic signification, used to denote every thing that 
has no name in particular, and that does not espe- 
cially relate to pigs and poultry. 

Have patience with me, and I will come straight 
back from the Ilissus to New- York thus. 

You too would worship two little trees and a sun- 
flower, if you had gone with me to the neighbor- 
hood of the Five Points the other day. Morally and 
physically, the breathing air was like an open tomb. 
How souls or bodies could live there, I could not 
imagine. If you want to see something worse than 
Hogarth's Gin Lane, go there in a warm afternoon, 
when the poor wretches have come to what they call 
home, and are not yet driven within doors, by dark- 
ness and constables. There you will see nearly every 
form of human misery, every sign of human degrada- 
tion. The leer of the licentious, the dull sensualism 
of the drunkard, the sly glance of the thief — oh, it 
made my heart ache for many a day. I regretted the 
errand of kindness that drew me there ; for it stunned 
my senses with the amount of evil, and fell upon the 
strong hopefulness of my character, like a stroke of 
the palsy. What a place to ask one's self, 'Will 
the millennium ever come ! ' 

And there were multitudes of children — of little 
girls. Where were their guardian angels 7 God be 
praised, the wilfully committed sin alone shuts out 
their influence ; and therefore into the young child's 
soul they may always enter. 

Mournfully, 1 looked upon these young creatures, 
as I said within myself, c And this is the education 
society gives her children — the morality of myrmi- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 27 

dons, the charity of constables !' Yet in the far-off 
Future I saw a gleam. For these too Christ has 
died. For these was the chorus sang over the hills 
of Judea ; and the heavenly music will yet find an 
echo deep in their hearts. 

It is said a spacious pond of sweet, soft water once 
occupied the place where Five Points stands. It 
might have furnished half the city with the purify- 
ing element ; but it was filled up at incredible ex- 
pense — a million loads of earth being thrown in, be- 
fore perceivable progress was made. Now, they 
have to supply the city with water from a distance, 
by the prodigious expense of the Croton Water 
Works. 

This is a good illustration of the policy of so- 
ciety towards crime. Thus does it choke up na- 
ture, and then seek to protect itself from the result, 
by the incalculable expense of bolts, bars, the gal- 
lows, watch-houses, police courts, constables, and 
' Egyptian tombs,' as they call one of the principal 
prisons here. If viewed only as a blunder, Satan might 
well laugh at the short-sightedness of the world, all the 
while toiling to build the edifice it thinks it is demol- 
ishing. Destroying violence by violence, cunning 
by cunning, is Sisyphus' work, and must be so to the 
end. Never shall we bring the angels among us, by 
' setting one devil up to knock another devil down; ' as 
the old woman said in homely but expressive phrase. 



LETTER IV. 

September 9, 1841. 

New York enjoys a great privilege, in facility and 
cheapness of communication with many beautiful 
places in the vicinity. For six cents one can ex- 
change the hot and dusty city, for Staten Island, 
Jersey, or Hoboken ; three cents will convey you to 



28 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Brooklyn, and twelve and a half cents pays for a 
most beautiful sail often miles, to Fort Lee. In ad- 
dition to the charm of rural beauty, all these pla- 
ces are bathed by deep waters. 

The Indians named the most beautiful lake of 
New England Win-ne-pe-sauk-ey, (by corruption, 
Winnepiseogee, which means, the Smile of the Great 
Spirit. I always think of this name, so expressively 
poetic, whenever I see sunbeams or moonbeams 
glancing on the waves. 

Because this feature is wanting in the landscape, 
I think our beautiful Massachusetts Brookline, — 
with its graceful, feathery elms, its majestic old oaks, 
its innumerable hidden nooks of greenery, and Ja- 
maica pond, that lovely, lucid mirror of the water 
nymphs, — is scarcely equal to Hoboken. I saw it 
for the first time in the early verdure of spring, and 
under the mild light of a declining sun. A small 
open glade, with natural groves in the rear, and the 
broad river at its foot, bears the imposing name of 
Elysian Fields. The scene is one where a poet's 
disembodied spirit might be well content to wander ; 
but, alas, the city intrudes her vices into this beau- 
tiful sanctuary of nature. There stands a public 
house, with its bar room, and bowling alley, a place 
of resort for the idle and profligate ; kept within the 
bounds of decorum, however, by the constant pres- 
ence of respectable visiters. 

Near this house, I found two tents of Indians. 
These children of the forest, like the monks of olden 
time, always had a fine eye for the picturesque. 
Wherever you find a ruined monastery, or the re- 
mains of an Indian encampment, you may be sure 
you have discovered the loveliest site in all the sur- 
rounding landscape. 

A fat little pappoose, round as a tub, with eyes 
like black beads, attracted my attention by the com- 
ical awkwardness of its tumbling movements. I en- 
tered into conversation with the parents, and found 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 29 

they belonged to the remnant of the Penobscot tribe. 
This, as Scott says, was ' picking up a dropped 
stitch 1 in the adventures of my life. 

' Ah,' said I, ' I once ate supper with your tribe 
in a hemlock forest, on the shores of the Kennebec. 
Is the old chief, Captain Neptune, yet alive V 

They almost clapped their hands with delight, to 
find one who remembered Capt. Neptune. I inquired 
for Etalexit, his nephew, and this was to them another 
familiar word, which it gave them joy to hear. 

Long forgotten scenes were restored to memory, 
and the images of early youth stood distinctly before 
me. I seemed to see old Neptune and his handsome 
nephew, a tall, athletic youth, of most graceful pro- 
portions. I always used to think of Etalexis, when 
1 read of Benjamin West's exclamation, the first time 
lie saw the Apollo Belvidere : ' My God ! how like 
a young Mohawk warrior !' 

But for years I had not thought of the majestic 
young Indian, until the meeting in Hoboken again 
brought him to my mind. I seemed to see him as I 
saw him last — the very dandy of his tribe — with a 
broad band of shining brass about his hat, a circle of 
silver on his breast, tied with scarlet ribbons, and a 
long belt of curiously-wrought wampum hanging to 
his feet. His uncle stood quietly by, puffing his 
pipe, undisturbed by the consciousness of wearing a 
crushed hat and a dirty blanket. With girlish curios- 
ity, I raised the heavy tassels of the wampum belt, 
and said playfully to the old man, ' Why don't you 
wear such a one as this V 

1 What for me wear ribbons and beads V he re- 
plied : ' Me no want to catch 'em squaw.'' 

He spoke in the slow, imperturbable tone of his 
race ; but there was a satirical twinkle in his small 
black eye, as if he had sufficiently learned the tricks 
of civilization to enjoy mightily any jokes upon 
women. 

3* 



30 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

We purchased a basket in the Elysian Fields, as a 
memento of these ghosts of the Past : preferring an 
unfinished one of pure white willow, unprofaned by 
daubs of red and yellow. 

Last week I again saw Hoboken in the full glory 
of moonlight. Seen thus, it is beautiful beyond im- 
agining. The dark, thickly shaded groves, where 
flickering shadows play fantastic gambols with the 
moonlight ; the water peeping here and there through 
the foliage, like the laughing face of a friend ; 
the high, steep banks, wooded down to the margin 
of the river ; the deep loneliness, interrupted only 
by the Katy-dids ; all conspired to produce an im- 
pression of solemn beauty. 

If you follow this path for about three miles from 
the landing-place, you arrive at Weehawken ; cele- 
brated as the place where Hamilton fought his fatal 
duel with Burr, and where his son likewise fell in a 
duel the year preceding. The place is difficult of access; 
but hundreds of men and women have there en- 
graven their names on a rock nearly as hard as ada- 
mant. A monument to Hamilton was here erected 
at considerable expense ; but it became the scene of 
such frequent duels, that the gentlemen who raised 
it caused it to be broken into fragments ; it is still, 
however, frequented for the same bad purpose. 
What a lesson to distinguished men to be careful of 
the moral influence they exert ! I probably admire 
Hamilton with less enthusiasm than those who fully 
sympathize with his conservative tendencies : but I find 
so much to reverence in the character of this early 
friend of Washington, that I can never sufficiently 
regret the silly cowardice which led him into so fa- 
ta I an error. Yet would I speak of it gently, as 
Pierpont does in his political poem : 

' Wert thou spotless in thy exit ? Nay : 
Nor spotless is the monarch of the day. 
Still but one cloud shall o'er thy fame be cast — 
And that shall shade no action but thy last.' 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 31 

A fine statue of Hamilton was wrought by Ball 
Hughes, which, like all resemblances of him, forci- 
bly reminded one of William Pitt. It was placed in 
the Exchange, in Wall street, and was crushed into 
atoms by the falling in of the roof, at the great fire 
of 1835. The artist stood gazing on the scene with 
listless despair ; and when this favorite production 
of his genius, on which he had bestowed the labor 
of two long years, fell beneath the ruins, he sobbed 
and wept like a child. 

The little spot at Weehawken, which led to this 
digression about Hamilton, is one of the last places 
which should be desecrated by the evil passions of 
man. It is as lovely as a nook of Paradise, before 
Satan entered its gardens. Where the steep, well- 
wooded bank descends to the broad bright Hudson, 
half way down is a level glade of verdant grass, 
completely embowered in foliage. The sparkling 
water peeps between the twining boughs, like light 
through the rich tracery of gothic windows ; and the 
cheerful twittering of birds alone mingles with the 
measured cadence of the plashing waves. Here 
Hamilton fought his duel, just as the sun was rising ; 

1 Clouds slumbering at his feet, and the clear blue 
Of summer's sky in beauty bending o'er him ; 
The city bright below ; and far away, 
Sparkling in golden light, his own romantic bay.' 

1 Tall spire, and glittering royf, and battlement, 
And banners floating in the sunny air, 
And white sails o'er the calm blue waters bent, 
Green isle and circling shore, all blended there 
In wild reality.' 

We descended, to return to the steamboat, by an 
open path on the river' s edge. The high bank, among 
whose silent groves we had been walking, now rose 
above our heads in precipitous masses of rugged 
stone, here and there broken into recesses, which, in 
the evening light, looked like darksome caverns. 



32 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Trees bent over the very edge of the summit, and 
their unearthed roots twisted among the rocks like 
huge serpents. On the other side lay the broad Hud- 
son in the moonlight, its waves rippling up to the 
shore with a cool, refreshing sound. 

All else was still — still — so fearfully still, that one 
might almost count the beatings of the heart. That 
my heart did beat. 1 acknowledge ; for here was the 
supposed scene of the Mary Rogers tragedy ; and 
though the recollection of her gave me no uneasiness, 
I could not forget that quiet, lovely path we were 
treading was near to the city, with its thousand 
hells, and frightfully easy of access. 

We spoke of the murdered girl, as we passed the 
beautiful promontory near the Sybil's cave, where 
her body was found, lying half in and half out of 
the water. A few steps further on, we encountered 
the first human beings we had met during the whole 
of our long ramble — two young women, singing with 
a somewhat sad constraint, as if to keep their cour- 
age up. 

I had visited the Sybil's cave in the day time, and 
should have entered its dark mouth by the moonlight, 
had not the aforesaid remembrances of the city 
haunted me like evil spirits. 

We Americans, you know, are so fond of classic 
names, that we call a village Athens, if it have but 
three houses, painted red to blush for their own ugli- 
ness. Whence this cave derives its imposing title I 
cannot tell. It is in fact rather a pretty little place, 
cut out of soft stone, in rude imitation of a gothic 
interior. A rock in the centre, scooped out like a 
baptismal font, contains a spring of cool, sweet wa- 
ter. The entire labor of cutting out this cave was 
performed by one poor Scotchman, with chisel and 
hammer. He worked upon it an entire year ; and 
probably could not have completed it in less than six 
months, had he given every day of his time. He 
expected to derive considerable profit by selling 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 33 

draughts from the spring, and keeping a small fruit 
stand near it. But alas, for the vanity of human 
expectations ! a few weeks after he completed his la- 
borious task, he was driven off the grounds, it is said, 
unrequited by the proprietor. 

A little before nine, we returned to the city. There 
was a strong breeze, and the boat bounded over the 
waves, producing that delightful sensation of elas- 
ticity and vigor which one feels when riding a free 
and fiery steed. The moon, obscured by fleecy clouds, 
shone with a saddened glory ; rockets rose from Cas- 
tle Garden, and dropped their blazing jewels on the 
billowy bosom of the bay ; the lamps of the city 
gleamed in the distance ; and with painful pity for 
the houseless street-wanderer, I gratefully remem- 
bered that one of those distant lights illuminated a 
home, where true and honest hearts were ever ready 
to bid me welcome. 



LETTER V. 

September 16, 1841. 

Since I wrote last, I have again visited Hoboken 
to see a band of Scotchmen in the old Highland cos- 
tume. They belong to a Benevolent Society for the 
relief of indigent countrymen ; and it is their custom 
to meet annually in Gaelic dress, to run, leap, hurl 
stones, and join in other Highland exercises— in fond 
remembrance of 

1 The land of rock and glen, 

Of strath, and lake, and mountain, 

And more of gifted men.' 

There were but thirty or forty in number, and a 
very small proportion of them fine specimens of man- 
hood. There was one young man, however, who 



34 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

was no bad sample of a brave young chief in the old- 
en time ; with athletic frame, frank countenance, bold 
bearing, and the bright, eager eye of one familiar 
with rugged hills and the mountain breeze. Before 
I was told, my eye singled him out, as most likely to 
bear away the prizes in the games. There was met- 
tle in him, that in another age and in another clime, 
would have enabled him to stand beside brave old 
Torquil of the Oak, and give the cheerful response, 
' Bas air son Eachin. 1 (Death for Hector.) 

But that age has passed, blessed be God ! and he 
was nothing more than a handsome, vigorous Scotch 
emigrant, skilful in Highland games. 

The dresses in general, like the wardrobe of a the- 
atre, needed the effect of distance to dazzle the imag- 
ination ; though two or three of them were really el- 
egant. Green or black velvet, with glittering buttons, 
was fitted close to the arms and waist ; beneath which 
fell the tartan kilt in ample folds ; from the left shoul- 
der flowed a long mantle of bright-colored plaid, 
chosen according to the varieties of individual taste, 
not as distinguishing marks of ancestral clans. Their 
shaggy pouches, called sporrans, were of plush or 
fur. From the knee to the ancle, there was no other 
covering than the Highland buskin of crimson plaid. 
One or two had dirks with sheaths and hilts beauti- 
fully embossed in silver, and ornamented with large 
crystals from Cairngorm ; St. Andrew and the thistle, 
exquisitely wrought on the blades of polished steel. 

These were exceptions ; for, as I have said, the 
corps in general had a theatrical appearance ; nor 
can I say they bore their standards, or unsheathed 
their claymores, with a grace quite sufficient to excite 
my imagination. Two boys, of eight or ten years 
old. who carried the tassels of the central banner, in 
complete Highland costume, pleased me more than 
all the others ; for children receive gracefulness from 
nature, and learn awkwardness of men. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 35 

But though there were many accompaniments to 
render the scene common-place and vulgar, yet it 
was not without pleasurable excitement, slightly 
tinged with romance, that I followed them along the 
steep banks of lloboken, and caught glimpses of 
them between the tangled foliage of the trees, or the 
sinuosities of rocks, almost as rugged as their own 
mountain-passes. Banners and mantles, which might 
not have borne too close inspection, looked graceful 
as they floated so far beneath me ; and the sound of 
the bagpipes struck less harshly on my ear, than 
when the musicians stood at my side. But even soft- 
ened by distance, I thought the shrill wailing of this 
instrument appropriate only to Clan Chattan, whose 
Chief was called Mohr ar chat, or the Great Cat. 

As a phantom of the Past, this little pageant inter- 
ested me extremely. I thought of the hatred of those 
fierce old clans, whose ' blood refused to mix, even 
if poured into the same vessel.' They were in the 
State what sects are in the Church — narrow, selfish, 
and vindictive. 

The State has dissolved her clans, and the Church 
is fast following the good example ; though there are 
still sectaries casting their shadows on the sunshine 
of God's earth, who, if they were to meet on the Devil's 
Bridge, as did the two old feudal chieftains of Scot- 
land, would, like them, choose death rather than 
humble prostration for the safe foot-path of an enemy. 

Clans have forgotten old quarrels, and not only 
mingled together, but with a hostile nation. National 
pride and national glory is but a more extended clan- 
ship, destined to be merged in universal love for the 
human race. Then farewell to citadels and navies, 
tariffs and diplomatists ; for the prosperity of each 
will be the prosperity of all. 

In religion, too, the spirit of extended, as well as 
of narrow clanship will cease. Not only will Chris- 
tianity forget its minor subdivisions, but it will itself 
cease to be sectarian. That only will be a genuine 



36 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

'World's Convention,' when Christians, with rever- 
ent tenderness for the religious sentiment in every 
form, are willing that Mohammedans or Pagans should 
unite with them in every good work, without ab- 
staining from ceremonies which to them are sacred. 

' The Turks,' says Lamartine, ' always manifest 
respect for what other men venerate and adore. 
Wherever a Mussulman sees the image of God in 
the opinion of his fellow-creatures, he bows down 
and he respects ; persuaded that the intention sanc- 
tifies \\\e form? 

This sentiment of reverence, so universal among 
Mohammedans, and so divine in its character, might 
well lead Pierpont to ask, when standing in the bury- 
ing-ground of Constantinople, 

' If all that host, 



Whose turbaned marbles o'er them nod 

Were doomed, when giving up the ghost, 

To die as those who have no God ? 

No, no, my God ! They worshipped Thee ; 

Then let not doubts my spirit darken, 

That Thou, who always hearest me, 

To these, thy children loo, didst hearken.' 

The world, regenerated and made free, will at last 
bid a glad farewell to clans and sects ! Would that 
their graves were dug, and their requiems sung ; and 
nothing but their standards and costumes left, as cu- 
rious historical records of the benighted Past ! 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 37 



LETTER VI. 



September 23> 1841. 



I lately visited the Jewish Synagogue in Crosby- 
street, to witness the Festival of the New Year, 
which was observed for two days, by religious ex- 
ercises and a general suspension of worldly -business. 
The Jewish year, you are aware, begins in Septem- 
ber; and they commemorate it in obedience to the 
following text of Scripture : — f In the first day of the 
seventh month ye shall have a Sabbath, a memorial 
of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. Ye 
shall do no servile work therein.' 

It was the first time I ever entered any place of 
worship where Christ was not professedly believed 
in. Strange vicissitudes of circumstance, over which 
I had no control, have brought me into intimate re- 
lation with almost every form of Christian faith, and 
thereby given me the poAver of looking candidly at 
religious opinions from almost any point of view. 
But beyond the pale of the great sect of Christianity 
I had never gone ; though far back in my early 
years, I remember an intense desire to be enough 
acquainted with some intelligent and sincere Mo- 
hammedan, to enable me to look at the Koran 
through his spectacles. 

The women were seated separately, in the upper 
part of the house. One of the masters of Israel came, 
and somewhat gruffly ordered me, and the young 
lady who accompanied me, to retire form the front 
seats of the synagogue. It was uncourteous ; for we 
were very respectful and still, and not in the least 
disposed to intrude upon the daughters of Jacob. 
However, my sense of justice was rather gratified at 
being treated contemptuously as a Gentile and ' a 
4 



38 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Nazarene ; ' for I remembered the contumely with 
which they had been treated throughout Christen- 
dom, and I imagined how they must feel, on entering 
a place of Christian worship, to hear us sing, 

' With hearts as hard as stubborn Jews, 
That unbelieving race.' 

The effect produced on my mind, by witnessing 
the ceremonies of the Jewish Synagogue, was strange 
and bewildering; spectral and flitting; with a sort, 
of vanishing resemblance to reality ; the magic lan- 
tern of the Past. 

Veneration and Ideality, you know, would have 
made me wholly a poet, had not the inconvenient 
size of Conscientiousness forced me into reforms ; 
between the two, I look upon the Future with active 
hope, and upon the Past with loving reverence. My 
mind was, therefore, not only unfettered by narrow 
prejudice, but solemnly impressed with recollections 
of those ancient times when the Divine Voice was 
heard amid the thunders of Sinai, and the Holy 
Presence shook the mercy-seat between the cherubim. 
I had, moreover, ever cherished a tenderness for 

' Israel's wandering race, that go 
Unblest through every land ; 
Whose blood hath stained the polar snow 
And quenched the desert sand : 
Judea's homeless hearts, that turn 
From all earth's shrines to thee, 
With their lone faith for ages borne 
In sleepless memory.' 

Thus prepared, the scene would have strongly 
excited my imagination and my feelings, had there 
not been a heterogeneous jumbling of the Present 
with the Past. There was the Ark containing the 
Sacred Law, written on scrolls of vellum, and rolled, 
as in the time of Moses ; but between the Ark and 
the congregation, instead of the ' brazen laver,' 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 39 

wherein those who entered into the tabernacle were 
commanded to wash, was a common bowl and ewer 
of English delf, ugly enough for the chamber of a 
country tavern. All the male members of the con- 
gregation, even the little boys, while they were with- 
in the synagogue, wore fringed silk mantles, border- 
ed with blue stripes ; for Moses was commanded to 
1 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them 
that they make them fringes in the borders of their 
garments, throughout their generations, and that 
they put upon the fringe of their borders a ribbon of 
blue ; ' — but then these mantles were worn over mod- 
ern broadcloth coats, and fashionable pantaloons 
with straps. The Priest indeed approached more 
nearly to the gracefulness of oriental costume ; for 
he wore a full black silk robe, like those worn by 
the Episcopal clergy ; but the large white silk shawl 
which shaded his forehead, and fell over his shoul- 
ders, was drawn over a common black hat ! Ever 
and anon, probably in parts of the ceremony deemed 
peculiarly sacred, he drew the shawl entirely over 
his face, as he stooped forward and laid his forehead 
on the book before him. I suppose this was done 
because Moses, till he had done speaking with the 
congregation, put a veil upon his face. But through 
the whole, priest and people kept on their hats. My 
spirit was vexed with this incongruity. I had turn- 
ed away from the turmoil of the Present, to gaze 
quietly for a while on the grandeur of the Past ; and 
the representatives of the Past walked before me, not 
in the graceful oriental turban, but the useful Euro- 
pean hat ! It broke the illusion completely. 

The ceremonies altogether impressed me with less 
solemnity than those of the Catholic Church : and 
gave me the idea of far less faith and earnestness in 
those engaged therein. However, some allowance 
must be made for this ; first, because the common 
bond of faith in Christ was wanting between us ; 
and, secondly, because all the services were perform- 



40 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ed in Hebrew, of which I understood not one sylla- 
ble. To see mouths opened to chant forth a series 
of unintelligible sounds, has the same kind of fantas- 
tic unreality about it, that there is in witnessing a 
multitude dancing, when you hear no music. But 
after making all these allowances, I could not escape 
the conclusion that the ceremonies were shuffled 
through in a cold, mechanical style. The priest 
often took up his watch, which lay before him ; and 
assuredly this chanting of prayers ' by Shrewsbury 
clock ' is not favorable to solemnity. 

The chanting was unmusical, consisting of monot- 
onous ups and downs of the voice, which, when the 
whole congregation joined in it, sounded like the 
continuous roar of the sea. 

The trumpet, which was blown by a Rabbi, with 
a shawl drawn over his hat and face, was of the 
ancient shape, somewhat resembling a cow's horn. 
It did not send forth a spirit-stirring peal ; but the 
sound groaned and struggled through it — not at all 
reminding one of the days when 

' There rose the choral hymn of praise, 
And trump and timbrel answered keen, 

And Zion's daughters pour'd their lays, 
With priest and warrior's voice between.' 

I observed, in the English translation on one side 
of an open prayer book, these words : — ' When the 
trumpet shall blow on the holy mountain, let all the 
earth hear ! Let them which are scattered in As- 
syria, and perishing in Egypt, gather themselves 
together in the Holy City.' I looked around upon 
the congregation, and I felt that Judea no longer 
awoke at the sound of the trumpet ! 

The ark, on a raised platform, was merely a kind 
of semicircular closet, with revolving doors. It was 
surmounted by a tablet, bearing a Hebrew inscrip- 
tion in gilded letters. The doors were closed and 
opened at different times, with much ceremony • 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 41 

sometimes a man stood silently before them, with a 
shawl drawn over his hat and face. When opened, 
they revealed festoons of white silk damask, sus- 
pended over the sacred rolls of the Pentateuch ; each 
roll enveloped in figured satin, and surmounted by 
ornaments with silver bells. According to the words 
of Moses, — ' Thou shalt put into the ark the testimo- 
ny which I shall give thee.' Two of these rolls were 
brought out, opened by the priest, turned round to- 
ward all the congregation, and after portions of them 
had been chanted for nearly two hours, were again 
wrapped in satin, and carried slowly back to the ark, 
in procession, the people chanting the Psalms of 
David, and the little bells tinkling as they moved. 

While they were chanting an earnest prayer for 
the coming of the Promised One, who was to restore 
the scattered tribes, I turned over the leaves, and, by 
a singular coincidence, my eye rested on these words: 
— ' Abraham said, see ye not the splendid light now 
shining on Mount Moriah 1 And they answered, noth- 
ing but cacenis do we see.'' I thought of Jesus, and 
the whole pageant became more spectral than ever ; 
so strangely vague and shadowy, that I felt as if 
under the influence of magic. 

The significant sentence reminded me of a Ger- 
man friend, who shared his sleeping apartment with 
another gentleman, and both were in the habit of 
walking very early in the morning. One night, his 
companion rose much earlier than he intended ; and 
perceiving his mistake, placed a lighted lamp in the 
chimney corner, that its glare might not disturb the 
sleeper, leaned his back against the fire-place, and 
began to read. Sometime after, the German rose, 
left him reading, and walked forth into the morning 
twilight. When he returned, the sun was shining 
high up in the heavens ; but his companion, uncon- 
scious of the change, was still reading by lamp-light 
jn the chimney corner. And this the Jews are now 
4* 



42 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

doing, as well as a very large proportion of Christ- 
ians. 

Ten days from the Feast of Trumpets, comes the 
Feast of the Atonement. Five days after, the Feast 
of Tabernacles is observed for seven days. Booths 
of evergreen are erected in the synagogue, according 
to the injunction, — ' Ye shall dwell in booths seven 
days ; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in 
booths. And ye shall take the boughs of goodly 
trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of 
thick trees, and willows of the brook ; and ye shall 
rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.' 

Last week, a new synagogue was consecrated in 
Attorney-street ; making, I believe, five Jewish Syn- 
agogues in this city, comprising in all about ten 
thousand of this ancient people. The congregation 
of the new synagogue are German emigrants, driven 
from Bavaria, the Duchy of Baden, &c. by oppres- 
sive laws. One of these laws forbade Jews to mar- 
ry ; and among the emigrants' were many betrothed 
couples, who married as soon as they landed on our 
shores ; trusting their future support to the God of 
Jacob. If not as ' rich as Jews,' they are now most 
of them doing well in the world ; and one of the first 
proofs they gave of prosperity, was the erection of a 
place of worship. 

The oldest congregation of Jews in New York, 
were called Shewith Israel. The Dutch governors 
would not allow them to build a place of worship ; 
but after the English conquered the colony, they 
erected a small wooden synagogue, in Mill-street, 
near which a creek ran up from the East river, 
where the Jewish women performed their ablutions. 
In the course of improvement this was sold ; and 
they erected the handsome stone building in Crosby- 
street, which I visited. It is not particularly striking 
or magnificent, either in its exterior or interior ; nor 
would it be in good keeping, for a people gone into 
captivity to have garments like those of Aaron, ' for 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 43 

gloTy and for beauty ; ' or an ' ark overlaid with 
pure gold, within and without, and a crown of gold 
to it round about.' 

There is something deeply impressive in this rem- 
nant of a scattered people, coming down to us in 
continuous links through the long vista of recorded 
time ; preserving themselves carefully unmixed by 
intermarriage with people of other nations and other 
faith, and keeping up the ceremonial forms of Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob, through all the manifold chan- 
ges of revolving generations. Moreover, our religions 
are connected, though separated ; they are shadow 
and substance, type and fulfilment. To the Jews 
only, with all their blindness and waywardness, was 
given the idea of one God, spiritual and invisible; 
and, therefore, among them only could such a one as 
Jesus have appeared. To us they have been the me- 
dium of glorious truths; and if the murky shadow 
of their Old dispensation rests too heavily on the mild 
beauty of the New, it is because the Present can 
never quite unmoor itself from the Past ; and well 
for the world's safety that it is so. 

Quakers were mixed with the congregation of 
Jews ; thus oddly brought together, were the repre- 
sentatives of the extreme of conservatism, and the 
extreme of innovation ! 

I was disappointed to see so large a proportion of 
this peculiar people fair-skinned and blue-eyed. As 
no one who marries a Gentile is allowed to remain 
in their synagogues, one would naturally expect to 
see a decided predominance of the dark eyes, jetty 
locks, and olive complexions of Palestine. But the 
Jews furnish incontrovertible evidence that color is 
the effect of climate. In the mountains of Bavaria 
they are light-haired and fair-skinned : in Italy and 
Spain they are dark : in Hindostan swarthy. The 
Black Jews of Hindostan are said to have been ori- 
ginally African and Hindoo slaves, who received 
their freedom as soon as they became converted to 



44 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Judaism, and had fulfilled the rites prescribed by the 
ceremonial law ; for the Jews, unlike Christians, deem 
it unlawful to hold any one of their own religious 
faith in slavery. In another respect they put us to 
shame ; for they held a Jubilee of Freedom once in 
fifty years, and on that occasion emancipated all, 
even of their heathen slaves. 

Whether the Black Jews, now a pretty large class 
in Hindostan, intermarry with other Jews we are 
not informed. Moses, their great lawgiver, married 
an Ethiopian. Miriam and Aaron were shocked at 
it, as they would have been at any intermarriage 
with the heathen tribes of whatever color. Whether 
the Ethiopian woman had adopted the faith of Israel 
is not mentioned ; but we are told that the anger of 
the Lord was kindled against Aaron and his sister 
for their conduct on this occasion. 

The anniversary meetings of the New- York He- 
brew Benevolent Society presents a singular combi- 
nation. There meet together pilgrims from the Holy 
Land, merchants from the Pacific Ocean and the East 
Indies, exiles from the banks of the Vistula, the Dan- 
ube, and the Dneiper, bankers from Vienna and Paris, 
and dwellers on the shores of the Hudson and the 
Susquehanna. Suspended in their dining hall, be- 
tween the American and English flags, may be seen 
the Banner of Judah, with Hebrew inscriptions in 
golden letters. How this stirs the sea of memory ! 
That national banner has not been unfurled for eigh- 
teen hundred years. The last time it floated to the 
breeze was over the walls of Jerusalem, besieged by 
Titus Vespasianus. Then, oar stars and stripes were 
not foreseen, even in dim shadow, by the vision of a 
prophet ; and here they are intertwined together over 
this congress of nations ! 

In New- York, as elsewhere, the vending of ' old 
clo" is a prominent occupation among the Jews; a 
fact in which those who look for spiritual correspon- 
dences can perceive significance; though singularly 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 45 

enough Sartor Rcsartus makes no allusion to it, in 
his ' Philosophy of Clothes.' When I hear Christian 
ministers apologizing for slavery by the example of 
Abraham, defending war, because the Lord comman- 
ded Samuel to hew Agag in pieces, and sustaining 
capital punishment by the retaliatory code of Moses, 
it seems to me it would be most appropriate to 
have Jewish criers at the doors of our theological 
schools, proclaiming at the top of their lungs, * Old 
Clothes! Old Clothes! Old Clothes all the way 
from Judea ! ' 

The proverbial worldliness of the Jews, their un- 
poetic avocations, their modern costume, and me- 
chanical mode of perpetuating ancient forms, cannot 
divest them of a sacred and even romantic interest. 
The religious idea transmitted by this remarkable 
people, has given them a more abiding and extend- 
ed influence on the world's history, than Greece at- 
tained by her classic beauty, or Rome by her trium- 
phant arms. Mohammedism and Christianity, the 
two forms of theology which include nearly all the 
civilized world, both grew from the stock planted by 
Abraham's children. On them lingers the long- 
reflected light of prophecy ; and we, as well as they, 
are watching for its fulfilment. And verily, all 
things seem tending toward it. Through all their 
wanderings, they have followed the direction of Mo- 
ses, to be lenders and not borroicers. The sovereigns 
of Europe and Asia, and the republics of America, 
are their debtors, to an immense amount. The 
Rothschilds are Jews ; and they have wealth enough 
to purchase all Palestine if they choose ; a large 
part of Jerusalem is in fact mortgaged to them. The 
oppressions of the Turkish government, and the in- 
cursions of hostile tribes, have hitherto rendered 
Syria an unsafe residence ; but the Sultan has erec- 
ted it into an independent power, and issued orders 
throughout his empire, that the Jews shall be as per- 
fectly protected in their religious and civil rights, as 



46 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

any other class of his subjects ; moreover, the pres- 
ent controversy between European nations and the 
East seems likely to result in placing Syria under 
the protection of Christian nations. It is reported 
that Prince Metternich. Premier of Austria, lias de- 
termined, if possible, to constitute a Christian king- 
dom out of Palestine, of which Jerusalem is to be the 
seat of government. The Russian Jews, who num- 
ber about 2,000,000, have been reduced to the most 
abject condition by contempt and tyranny ; but 
there, too, government is now commencing a move- 
ment in their favour, without requiring them to re- 
nounce their faith. As long ago as 1817 important 
privileges were conferred by law on those Jews who 
consented to embrace Christianity. Land was gratui- 
tously bestowed upon them, where they settled, under 
the name of The Society of Israelitish Christians. 

These signs of the times cannot, of course, escape 
the observation, or elude the active zeal of Chris- 
tians of the present day. England has established 
many missions for the conversion of the Jews. The 
Presbyterian Church of Scotland have lately addres- 
sed a letter of sympathy and expostulation to the 
scattered children of Israel, which has been printed 
in a great variety of Oriental and Occidental langua- 
ges. In Upper Canada, a Society of Jews, converted 
to Christianity, have been organized to facilitate the 
return of the wandering tribes to the Holy Land. 

The Rev. Solomon Michael Alexander, a learned 
Rabbi, of the tribe of Judah, has been proselyted to 
Christianity, and sent to Palestine by the Church of 
England ; being consecrated the first Bishop of Je- 
rusalem. 

Moreover, the spirit of schism appears among them. 
A numerous and influential body in England have 
seceded, under the name of Reformed Jews. They 
denounce the Talmud as a mass of absurdities, and 
adhere exclusively to the authority of Moses ; where- 
as, orthodox Jews consider the rabbinical writings of 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 47 

equal authority with the Pentateuch. They have 
sent a Hebrew circular to the Jews of this country, 
warning tlicm against the seceders. A General Con- 
vention is likewise proposed, to enable them to draw 
closer the bonds of union. 

AY hat a busy, restless age is this in which we are 
cast ! What a difficult task for Israel to walk 
through its midst, with mantles untouched by the 
Gentiles. 

' And hath she wandered thus in vain, 

A pilgrim of the past !' 
No ! long deferred her hope hath been, 

But it shall come at last ; 
For in her wastes a voice I hear, 

As from some prophet's urn, 
It bids the nations build not there, 

For Jacob shall return.' 



LETTER VII. 

September 30, 1841. 

A few days since, I crossed the East River to 
Brooklyn, on Long Island ; named by the Dutch, 
Breuck-len, or the Broken-land. Brooklyn Heights, 
famous in Revolutionary history, command a mag- 
nificent view of the city of New-York, the neighbor- 
ing islands, and harbor ; and being at least a hundred 
feet above the river, and open to the sea, they are 
never unvisited by a refreshing and invigorating 
breeze. A few years ago, these salubrious heights 
might have been purchased by the city at a very low 
price, and converted into a promenade of beauty un- 
rivalled throughout the world ; but speculators have 
now laid hands upon them, and they are digging 
them away to make room for stores, with convenient 
landings from the river. In this process, they not 
unfreqttently turn out the bones of soldiers, buried 



48 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

there during the battles and skirmishes of the Rev- 
olution. 

We turned aside to look in upon the small, neat 
burying-ground of the Methodist church, where lie 
the bones of that remarkable young man, the Rev. 
John Summerfield. In the course of so short a life, 
few have been able to impress themselves so deeply 
and vividly on the memory of a thousand hearts, as 
this eloquent disciple of Christ. None who heard 
the fervid outpourings of his gifted soul could ever 
forget him. His grave is marked by a horizontal 
marble slab, on which is inscribed a long, well writ- 
ten epitaph. The commencement of it is the most 
striking : 

t Rev. John Summerfield. Born in England ; born again in 
Ireland. By the first, a child of genius ; by the second a child 
of God. Called to preach at 19 ; died at 27.' 

Dwellings were around this little burying-ground r 
separated by no fences, their thresholds divided from 
the graves only by a narrow foot path. I was anx- 
ious to know what might be the effect on the spirit- 
ual character of children, accustomed to look out 
continually upon these marble slabs to play among 
the grassy mounds, and perchance to ' take their lit- 
tle porringer, and eat their supper there.' 

About two miles from the ferry, we came to 
the marshy village of Gowannus, and crossed the 
mill-pond where nearly a whole regiment of youngs 
Marylanders were cut off, retreating before the Brit- 
ish, at the unfortunate battle of Long Island. A 
farm near by furnishes a painful illustration of the 
unwholesome excitement attendant upon speculation. 
Here dwelt an honest, ignorant, peaceful old man y 
who inherited from his father a farm of little value. 
Its produce was, however, enough to supply his mod- 
erate wants ; and he took great pleasure in a small, 
neatly kept flower garden, from which he was ever 
ready to gather a bouquet for travellers. Thus qui- 
etly lived the old-fashioned farmer and his family, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 49 

and thus they might have gone home to their fathers, 
had not a band of speculators foreseen that the rap- 
idly increasing city would soon take in Brooklyn, and 
stretch itself across the marshes of Gowannus. Full 
of these visions, they called upon the old man, and 
offered him $70,000 for a farm which had,originally, 
been bought almost for a song. $10,000, in silver 
and gold, were placed on the table before him ; he 
looked at them, fingered them over, seemed bewil- 
dered, and agreed to give a decisive answer on the 
morrow. The next morning found him a raving ma- 
niac ! And thus he now roams about, recklessly 
ton ring up the flowers he once loved so dearly, and 
keeping his family in continual terror. 

On the high ground, back of this marsh, is Green- 
wood Cemetery, the object of our pilgrimage. The 
site is chosen with admirable taste. The grounds, 
beautifully diversified with hill and valley, are near- 
ly covered with a noble old forest, from which it 
takes its cheerful name of the Green Wood. 

The area of two hundred acres comprises a greater 
variety of undulating surface than Mount Auburn, 
and I think excels it in natural beauty. From em- 
bowered glades and deeply shaded dells, you rise in 
some places twenty feet, and in others more than two 
hundred, above the sea. Mount Washington, the 
highest and most remarkable of these elevations, is 
two hundred and sixteen feet high. The scenery 
here is of picturesque and resplendent beauty ; — com- 
prising an admirable view of New- York ; the shores 
of North and East River, sprinkled with villages ; 
Staten Island, that lovely gem of the waters ; the 
entire harbor, white with the sails of a hundred ships; 
and the margin of the Atlantic, stretching from San- 
dy Hook beyond the Rockaway Pavilion. A magnif- 
icent monument to Washington is to be erected here. 

Thence we rambled along, through innumerable 
sinuosities, until we came to a quiet little lake, which 
5 



50 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

bears the pretty name of Sylvan Water. Fish abound 
here, undisturbed ; and shrubs in their wild, natural 
state, bend over the margin to dip their feet and wash 
their faces. 

' Here come the Irttfe gentle bird3, 
Without a fear of ill, 
Down to the murmuring water's edge, 
And freely drink their fili.' 

As a gun is never allowed to enter the premises, 
the playful squirrels, at will, ' drop down from the 
leafy tree,' and the air of spring is redolent with 
woodland melody. 

An hour's w r andering brought us round to the same 
place again ; for here, as at Mount Auburn, it is ex- 
ceedingly easy for the traveller to lose his way in 
Iabyrinthian mazes. 

'The wandering paths that wrnd and creep. 

Now o'er the mountain's rugged brow, 
And now where sylvan waters sleep 

In quiet beauty, far below, 
Those paths which many a lengthened mile 

Diverge, then meet, then part once more, 
Like those which erst in Creta's isle, 

Were trod by fabled Minotaur.' 

Except the beautiful adaptation of the roads and 
paths to the undulating nature of the ground, Art 
has yet done but little for Greenwood. It is said the 
Company that purchased it for a cemetery, will have 
the good taste to leave the grounds as nearly as pos- 
sible in a state of nature. But as funds are increased 
by the sale of burying lots, the entire precincts will 
be enclosed within terrace-walls, a handsome gate- 
way and chapel will be erected, and a variety of pub- 
lic monuments. The few private monuments now 
there, are mostly of Egyptian model, with nothing 
remarkable in their appearance. 

On this spot was fought the bloody battle of Long 
Island. 



LETTERS PROM NEW YORK, 5i 

'Each wood, each hill, each glen, 

Lives in the record of those days 
Which ' tried the souls of men.' 

This fairy scene, so quiet now, 
Where murmuring winds breathe soft and low, 

And bright birds carol sweet, 
Once heard the ringing clash of steel, 
The shout, the shriek, the volley'd peai, 

The rush of flying feet 1 .' 

When the plan was first suggested, of finding some 
quiet, sequestered place, for a portion of the innu- 
merable dead of this great city, many were very ur- 
gent to have it called the Necropolis, meaning The 
City of the Dead ; hut Cemetery was more wisely 
chosen ; for the old Greeks signified thereby The 
Place of Sleep. We still need a word of Christian 
significance, implying, ' They are not here ; they 
have risen.' I should love to see this cheerful motto 
over the gate-way. 

The increase of beautiful burial-grounds, like Mount 
Auburn and Greenwood, is a good sign. Blessed be 
all agencies that bring our thoughts into pleasant 
companionship with those who have i ended their 
pilgrimage and begun their life.' Banished for ever 
be the sable garments, the funeral pall, the dismal, 
unshaded ground. If we must attend to a change of 
garments, while our hearts are full of sorrow, let us 
wear sky-blue, like the Turks, to remind us of heav- 
en. The horror and the gloom, with which we sut- 
round death, indicates too surely our want of living 
faith in the soul's immortality. Deeply and seriously 
impressed we must needs be, whenever called to 
contemplate the mysterious close of L our hood- winked 
march from we know not whence, to we know not 
whither ; ' but terror and gloom ill become the disci- 
ples of Him, who asked with such cheerful signifi- 
cance, ' Why seek ye the Living among the Dead ? ' 

I rejoice greatly to observe that these ideas are 
gaining ground in the community. Individuals of 



52 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

all sects, and in many cases entire churches, are ab- 
juring the custom of wearing mourning ; and Pro- 
testant Christendom is fast converting its dismal, bar- 
ricaded burial grounds into open, flowery walks. 
The Catholics have always done so. I know not 
whether the intercession of Saints, and long contin- 
ued masses for the dead, bring their imaginations into 
more frequent and nearer communion with the de- 
parted ; but for some reason or other, they keep more 
bright than we do the link between those who are 
living here, and those who live beyond. Hence, their 
tombs are constantly supplied with garlands by the 
hand of affection ; and the innocent babe lying un- 
cofflned on its bier in the open church, with fragrant 
flowers in its little hand, and the mellow light from 
painted windows, resting on its sweet uncovered face. 
Great is the power of Faith ! 



LETTER VIII. 

October 7, 1841. 

Among the many objects of interest in this great 
city, a stranger cannot overlook its shipping ; espe- 
cially as New- York lays claim to superiority over 
other cities of the Union, in the construction of ves- 
sels, which are remarked for beauty of model, ele- 
gance of finish, and gracefulness of sparring. 

I have often anathematized the spirit of Trade r 
which reigns triumphant, not only on Change, but 
in our halls of legislation, and even in our churches. 
Thought is sold under the hammer, and sentiment r 
in its holiest forms, stands labelled for the market. 
Love is offered to the highest bidder, and sixpences 
are given to purchase religion for starring souls. 

In view of these things, I sometimes ask whether 
the age of Commerce is better than the age of War I 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 53 

Whether our ' merchant princes' are a great advance 
upon feudal chieftains 1 Whether it is better for the 
many to be prostrated by force, or devoured by cun- 
ning } To the imagination, those bloody old barons 
seem the nobler of the two ; for it is more manly to 
hunt a lion, than to entrap a fox. But Reason ac- 
knowledges that merchandize, with all its cunning 
and its fraud, is a step forward in the slow march of 
human improvement ; and Hope announces, in pro- 
phetic tones, that Commerce will yet fulfil its high- 
est mission, and encircle the world in a golden band 
of brotherhood. 

You will not think this millennium is nigh, when 
I tell you that the most graceful, fairy-like vessel in 
these waters was a slaver ! She floated like a sea- 
nymph, and cut the waves like an arrow. I mean 
the Baltimore clipper, called the Catharine ; taken 
by British cruisers, and brought here, with all her 
detestable appurtenances of chains and padlocks, 
to be adjudged by the United States' Court, con- 
demned, and sold. For what purpose she is now 
used, I know not ; but no doubt this city is secretly 
much involved in the slave-trade. 

At the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, I saw the ship-of- 
war Independence, which carried out Mr. Dallas and 
his family, when he went ambassador to Russia. On 
their arrival at Cronstadt, they observed a barge, 
containing sixteen of the emperor's state officers, put 
off from a steamboat near by, and row towards them. 
They came on board, leaving behind them the barge- 
men, and a tall, fine-looking man at the helm. While 
the officers were in the cabin partaking refreshments 
and exchanging courtesies, the helmsman leaped on 
board, and made himself 'hail fellow, well met' with 
the sailors, accepting cuds of tobacco, and asking 
various questions. When the officers returned on 
deck, and he had resumed his place, one of the sailors 
said to his comrade, with a knowing look, 'I tell you 
5* 



54 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



what, Tom, that 'ere chaps more than we take him 
for. He's a land-lubber, I can tell you. Old Nep- 
tune never had the dipping of him.' 

An officer of the Independence overheard these 
remarks, and whispered to Commodore Nicholson 
that he shrewdly suspected the tall, plainly-dressed 
helmsman, was the Emperor Nicholas, in disguise ; 
for he was said to be fond of playing such pranks. 
A royal salute, forty-two* guns, was immediately 
ordered. The helmsman was observed to count the 
guns; and after twenty-one (the common salute) 
had been fired, he took off his cap and bowed. The 
Russian steamer instantly ran up the imperial flag ; 
all the forts, and every ship in the harbor, commenc- 
ed a tremendous cannonading : rending the air, as 
when from ' crag to crag leaps the live thunder.' 

In courteous acknowledgment of his discovered 
disguise, the officers of the Independence were invit- 
ed to make the palace their home, during their stay 
at St. Petersburg, and the Emperor's carriages, horses, 
and aids, were at their service ; a compliment never 
before paid to a vessel of any nation. 

Yet was similar honor conferred on an uncouth 
country boy from New England ! The following is 
the substance of the story, as told by Mr. Dallas, at 
a public dinner given him in Philadelphia, on his 
return from Russia, in 1838. 

One day a lad, apparently about nineteen, present- 
ed himself before our ambassador at St. Petersburg. 
He was a pure specimen of the genus Yankee ; with 
sleeves too short for his bony arms, trowsers halfway 
up to his knees, and hands playing with coppers and 
ten-penny nails in his pocket. He introduced him- 
self by saying — ' I've just come out here to trade, 
with a few Yankee notions, and I want to get sight 
of the Emperor.' 

' Why do you wish to see kim ? ' 

'I've brought him a present, all the way from 
Ameriky. I respect him considerable, and I want 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 55 

to get at him, to give it to him with my own 
hands.' 

Mr. Dallas smiled, as he answered, ' It is such a 
common thing, my lad, to make crowned heads a 
present, expecting something handsome in return, 
that I'm afraid the Emperor will consider this only 
a Yankee trick. What have you brought V 

1 An acorn.' 

' An acorn ! w T hat under the sun induced you to 
bring the Emperor of Russia an acorn V 

1 Why, jest before I sailed, mother and I went on 
to Washington to see about a pension ; and when 
we was there, we thought wed jest step over to 
Mount Vernon. I picked up this acorn there ; and 
I thought to myself I'd bring it to the Emperor. 
Thinks, says I, he must have heard a considerable 
deal about our General Washington, andl expect he 
must admire our institutions. So now you see I've 
brought it, and I want to get at him.' 

' My lad, it's not an easy matter for a stranger to 
approach the Emperor ; and I am afraid he will take 
no notice of your present. You had better keep 

it-' 

' I tell you I want to have a talk with him. I ex- 
pect I can tell him a thing or two about Ameriky. 
I guess he'd like mighty well to hear about our rail- 
roads, and our free schools, and what a big swell 
our steamers cut. And when he hears how well our 
people are getting on, may be it will put him up to 
doing something. The long and the short on't is, I 
shan t be easy till I get a talk with the Emperor ; 
and I should like to see his wife and children. I 
want to see how such folks bring up a family.' 

' Well, sir, since you are so determined upon it, I 
will do what I can for you ; but you must expect 
to be disappointed. Though it will be rather an 
unusual proceeding, I would advise you to call on 
the vice-chancellor, and state your wishes ; he may 
possibly assist you.' 



OU LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

' Well, that's all I want of you. I will call again, 
and let you know how I get on.' 

In two or three days, he again appeared, and said, 
' Well, I've seen the Emperor, and had a talk with 
him. He's a real gentleman, I can tell you. When 
I give him the acorn, he said he should set a great 
store by it ; that there was no character in ancient 
or modern history he admired so much as he did our 
Washington. He said lied plant it in his palace 
garden with his own hand ; and he did do it — for I 
see him with my own eyes. He wanted to ask me 
so much about our schools and rail-roads, and one 
thing or another, that he invited me to come again, 
and see his daughters : for he said his wife could 
speak better English than he could. So I went a- 
gain yesterday : and she's a fine, knowing woman, 
I tell you ; and his daughters are nice gals.' 

' What did the Empress say to you V 

' Oh, she asked me a sight o' questions. Don't 
you think, she thought we had no servants in A- 
meriky ! I told her poor folks did their own work, 
but rich folks had plenty of servants. ' But then 
you don't rail 'em servants,' said she ; ' you call 'em 
help.' I guess, ma'am, you've been reading Mrs. 
Trollope 7 says I. We had that ere book aboard 
our ship. The Emperor clapped his hands, and 
laughed as if he'd kill himself. ' You're right, sir,' 
said he, ' you're right. We sent for an English copy, 
and she's been reading it this very morning !' Then 
I told him all I knew about our country, and he was 
mightily pleased. He wanted to know how long I 
expected to stay in these parts. I told him I'd. sold 
all the notions I brought over, and I guessed I should 
go back in the- same ship. I bid 'em good bye, all 
round, and went about my business. Ain't I had a 
glorious time 1 I expect you didn't calculate to see 
me run such a rig V 

1 No, indeed, I did not, my lad. You may well 
consider yourself lucky ; for it's a very uncommon 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 57 

thing for crowned heads to treat a stranger with so 
much distinction. 1 

A few days after, he called again, and said, ' I 
gness I shall stay here a spell longer, Pm treated so 
well. T'other day a grand officer come to my room, 
and told me the Emperor had sent him to show me 
all the curiosities ; and I dressed myself, and he 
took me with him in a mighty fine carriage, with 
four horses ; and I've been to the theatre and the 
museum ; and I expect I've seen about all there is 
to be seen in St. Petersburg. AY hat do you think 
of that, Mr. Dallas V 

It seemed so incredible that a poor, ungainly Yan- 
kee lad should be thus loaded with attentions, that 
the ambassador scarcely knew what to think or say. 

In a short time, his strange visiter re-appeared. 
' Well,' said he, ' I made up my mind to go home ; 
so I went to thank the Emperor, and bid him good- 
bye. I thought I couldn't do no less, he : d been so 
civil. Says he, ' Is there anything else you'd like 
to see before you go back to Ameriky V I told him 
I should like to get a peep at Moscow ; for I'd heard 
considerable about their setting fire to the Kremlin, 
and I'd read a deal about General Bonaparte ; but it 
would cost a sight o' money to go there, and I wan- 
ted to carry my earnings to mother. So I bid him 
good-bye, and come off. Now what do you guess he 
did, next morning 1 I vow, he sent the same man, 
in regimentals, to carry me to Moscow in one of his 
own carriages, and bring me back again, when I've 
seen all I want to see ! And we're going to-morrow 
morning, Mr. Dallas. What do you think now V 

And sure enough, the next morning the Yankee 
boy passed the ambassador's house in a splendid 
coach and four, waving his handkerchief, and shout- 
ing ' Good-bye ! Good-bye !' 

Mr. Dallas afterward learned from the Emperor 
that all the particulars related by this adventurous 
youth were strictly true. He again heard from him 



5S LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

at Moscow, waited upon by the public officers, and 
treated with as much attention as is usually be- 
stowed on ambassadors. 

The last t Mings of him reported that he was trav- 
elling in Circassia, and writing a Journal, which he 
intended to publish. 

Now. who but a Yankee could have done all that 1 

While speaking of the Emperor, I must not forget 
the magnificent steam frigate Kamschatka, built here 
to his order. Her model, drafted by Captain Von 
Shantz, of the Russian navy, is extremely beautiful. 
She sits on the water as gracefully as a swan ; and 
it is said her speed is not equalled by any sea-steain- 
er on the Atlantic or Pacific, the Black sea, the In- 
dian, or the Baltic. It is supposed she could easily 
make the passage from here to England in ten days. 
The elegance of her rigging, and her neat, nimble 
wheels have been particularly admired. These 
wheels are constructed on a new plan ; and though 
apparently slight, have great strength and power. 
Her engines are of six hundred horse power, and 
her tonnage about two thousand. 

All the metal about her is American. In ma- 
chinery and construction she carries two hundred 
thousand pounds of copper, fifty thousand of wrought 
iron, and three hundred thousand of cast iron. Two 
hundred and fifty men were eight months employed 
in building her. Her cabins are said to be magnifi- 
cent. Two drawing rooms are fitted up in princely 
style for the imperial family ; the wood-work of 
these consists of mahogany, bird's-eye maple, rose- 
wood, and satin-wood. Her hull is entirely black ; 
the bows and stern surmounted with a large double- 
headed gilt eagle, and a crown. The machinery, made 
by Messrs. Dunham &< Co. of this city, is said to be 
of the most superb workmanship ever produced in 
this country. She is considered a remarkably cheap 
vessel of the kind r . as she costs only four hundred 
thousand dollars. She was built under the superin- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 59 

tendence of Mr. Scott, who goes in her to Russia, as 
chief engineer. She sailed for Cronstadt last week, 
being escorted out of the harbor by a large party of 
ladies and gentlemen. Among these was Mr. Rhoades, 
of New- York, the Naval Constructor. You probably 
recollect that he built a large gun-ship for the Turk- 
ish Sultan ; who was so much delighted when he 
saw the noble vessel launched right royally upon the 
waves, that he jumped and capered, and threw his 
arms about the ship-builder's neck, and gave him a 
golden box, set with splendid jewels. Henry Eck- 
ford, too, one of the most remarkable of marine ar- 
chitects, was of New-York. He built the Kensington 
for the Greeks, and died prematurely while in the 
employ of Mahmoud. It is singular, is it not, that 
foreign powers send to this young country, when they 
most want ingenious machinery, or skilful workman- 
ship ') But I will quit this strain, lest I fall into our 
national sin of boasting. 

I cannot bid you farewell without mentioning the 
French frigate Belle Poule, commanded by the Prince 
de Joinville, son of Louis Philippe. She is an inter- 
esting object seen from the Battery, with her tri-color 
flying; for one seems to see the rich sarcophagus, 
with its magnificent pall of black velvet, sprinkled 
with silver stars, in which she conveyed the remains 
of Napoleon from St. Helena to Paris. Every day, 
masses were said, and requiems sung on board, for 
the soul of the great departed. Do not quarrel with 
the phrase. In its highest significance it is ill applied 
to any warrior ; but, nevertheless, in the strong will 
successfully enforced, there is ever an element of 
greatness. 

The same unrivalled band that attended the impe- 
rial remains, are now on board, and sometimes refresh 
our citizens with most enchanting music. They are 
twenty-six in number, paid from the Prince's own 
purse. 



60 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Sabbath before last, a youth of fourteen, much be- 
loved, died on board, far from home and kindred. It 
was an impressive sight to see the coffin of the young 
stranger passing through our streets, covered with 
the tri-colored flag, suspended upon ropes, after the 
manner of marine burials in Europe, and borne by 
his mourning comrades. 

The Prince's private state-room contains a bronze 
copy of the Joan of Arc, which was exquisitely sculp- 
tured by his sister, Marie, who had great genius for 
the fine arts, and was richly endowed with intellect. 
In the same room are miniatures of his royal parents, 
by the celebrated Madame de Mirbel, and some very 
spirtited sketches by his own hand. It is worthy of 
remark, that the only royal family eminently distin- 
guished for private virtues, combined with a high de- 
gree of intellectual cultivation, were not educated to 
be princes ; and that their father had acquired wis- 
dom and strength in the school of severe adversity. 

The keeper of Castle Garden, when he saw me 
watching the barge that came from the Belle Poule, 
repeated, at least half a dozen times, that I should 
not know the Prince from any other man, if I were 
to see him. I was amused to hear him thus betray 
the state of his own mind, though he failed to en- 
lighten mine. 

I love to linger about the Battery at sunset ; to 
see the flags all drop down suddenly from the mast 
head in honor of the retreating king of day ; and to 
hear in the stillness of evening, some far-off song 
upon the waters, or the deep, solemn sound, ' All's 
well ! ' echoed from one to another of those numerous 
ships, all lying there so hushed and motionless. A 
thousand thoughts crowd upon my mind, as I silently 
gaze on their twinkling lights, and shadowy rigging, 
dimly relieved against the sky. I think of the hu- 
man hearts imprisoned there; of the poor sailor's 
toil and suffering ; of his repressed affections, and 
benighted mind ; and in that one idea of life spent 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 61 

without a home, I find condensed all that my nature 
most shudders at. I think, too, of the poor fugitive 
slave, hunted out by mercenary agents, chained on 
ship-board, and perchance looking up, desolate and 
heart-broken, to the same stars on which I fix my 
free and happy gaze. Alas, how fearfully solemn 
must their light be to htm, in his hopeless sorrow, 
and superstitious ignorance. 



LETTER IX. 

■ 



October ]4, 1841. 



Last week we went to Ravens wood, to visit Grant 
Thorburn's famous garden. We left the city by Hell- 
gate, a name not altogether inappropriate for an en- 
trance to New York. The waters, though some- 
what troubled and peevish, were more composed than 
I had expected. This was owing to the high tide ; 
and it reminded me of Washington Irving's descrip- 
tion : — ' Hell-gate is as pacific at low water as any 
other stream ; as the tide rises, it begins to fret ; at 
half tide it rages and roars, as if bellowing for more 
water ; but when the tide is full, it relapses again 
into quiet, and for a time seems to sleep almost as 
soundly as an alderman after dinner. It may be 
compared to an inveterate drinker, who is a peaceful 
fellow enough when he has no liquor at all, or when 
he is skin-full ; but when half-seas over, plays the 
very devil.' One of the steam-ferry boats that crosses 
this turbulent passage, is appropriately called the 
Pluto. It is odd that men should have confounded 
together the deities that preside over Riches and over 
Hell, and that the god of Commerce should likewise 
be the god of Lies. Perhaps the ancients had sar- 
castic significance in this. 
6 



62 1. 1. Til. its i i:m\i m.u \..i:k. 

The garden ;ii Ravenswood is well worth seeing. 
An admirable green-house, lull of choice plants; i 
tensive and varied walks, neatly U * • | » i ; and nearly 
three thousand dahlias in lull bloom Mm- choicest 
specimens, with every variety of shade and hue; 
and .'i catalogue of greal names, from Lord Welling 
ton, to Kate Nickleby and Grace Darling. I never 
saw any floral exhibition more superb. They stood 
facing each other in regal groups, as if the court 
beauties of ;i coronation t > ; ■ II had been suddenly 
changed into blossoms by an enchanter's wand. The 
location of the garden is beautiful; in sonic pi, 
opening upon pretty rural scenes of wood and p 
ture, and fronting on tne broad blue river, where, ev- 
er .'Hid anon, may be seen, through the intervening 
foliage, some little boat, or sloop, with snowy sail, 
gliding gracefully along in silence and sunlight. 

Grant Thorburn, you Know, of course; that little 
'spunk o' geni, in ;i rickety tabernacle.' on who 
history Gait built his Lawrie 'Todd. The story de- 
rived small aid from fiction; the first volume di 
almost literally Grant Thorburn s history, as he tells 
ii himself. To be sure, he never pushed into the wil- 
derness, to layout ' Judiville, 5 or any other new town, 
Though Ravenswood has grown up around him, and 
the tasteful name is of Ins own choosing, he never 
c.n id have endured many of the hardships of ;i pion- 
eer; for the village Lies on the Bast River, ;■ little 
son 1I1 of Hallet's Cove, not more than five miles from 
the city, The name came from the Bride of Lam 
mermoor: for though :i strict adherent of Scotland's 
kirk, he is a great admirer of Sir Walter's romances. 
The pleasant oM gentleman returned in the boat with 
ns, and was highly communicative: for, in the first 
place, he loves to talk of himself and Ins adventui 
with th<- innocent and inoffensive egotism of a little 
child : and in the next place, he favors Boston ladies, 
having a pleased recollection of the great attention 
paid him there lie toW "■ he was born near St 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 63 

Leonard's Crags, and in his boyhood was accustomed 
to pass Jeannie Dean's cottage frequently. His grand- 
father was alive and stirring at the time of the Por- 
teotts mob, and he had heard him recount the leading 
incidents in the heart of Mid Lothian a thousand 
times. I was charmed to hear him recite, in the pure 
Scotch accent, Jeannie's eloquent and pathetic appeal 
to the Queen. Speaking of Scott's fidelity to the na- 
tional character, I asked him if he had not often met 
with a Dandie Dinmont ; he replied, ' Yes, and with 
Dumbiedikes too; but much oftener with a 'douce 
Davie I Jeans.' ' 

Lawric Todd is very true to the life ; yet it is slight- 
ly embellished with fictitious garniture, like a veri- 
tahle portrait in masquerade dress. The old gentle- 
man's love of matter of fact led him to publish a bi- 
ographical sketch of himself; which, so far as it goes, 
is almost in the identical language used by Gait : 
both being in fact the very words in which he has 
been long accustomed to repeat his story. Another 
motive for giving an unadorned account of himself in 
his little book, probably was the very natural and not 
unpleasing propensity of an old man, to trace step 
by step the adventures and efforts whereby he fash- 
ioned such a flowery fortune from the barren sands. 

The handsome country-seats of himself and son, 
standing side by side in the midst of this spacious 
and beautiful garden; urns supported by Cupids, 
(which they say in Yankee land should be called 
cupidities;) and oriental glimpses here and there, of 
some verdant mound among the winding walks, sur- 
mounted by the tufted Sago Palm, or spreading Cac- 
tus ; all this contrasted oddly enough with his own 
account of himself, as a diminutive Scotch lad with 
' brief legs and shufflng feet,' squatted down on the 
deck of the emigrant ship, which brought him here, 
poor and friendless, in 1794. He thus describes him- 
self, helping the colored cook to prepare dinner, when 
they first drew near the wharves of New- York : ' I 



64 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

sat down with Cato, as he was called, square .on the 
deck, his feet against my feet, with a wooden bowl 
of potatoes between our legs, and began to scrape off 
the skins. While thus employed, a boat came along- 
side with several visiters. One inquired for a farmer's 
servant, wishing to engage one ; another for a house- 
maid : and the third, thanks be and praise ! asked if 
there was a nail-maker on board. My greedy ear 
snapped the word, and looking up, I answered, ' I 
am one.' ' You ! ' replied he, looking down as if I 
was a fairy; 'You! can you make nails?' 'I'll 
wager a sixpence,' (all I had) was my answer, ' that 
I'll make more nails in one day than any man in 
America.' This reply, the manner of it, and the figure 
of the bragger, set all present into a roar of laughter.' 

A curious sample of Scotch thrift was shown when 
he first opened a little shop, without capital to buy 
stock. Brick-bats, covered with iron monger's paper, 
with a knife or fork tied on the outside, were ranged 
on the shelves like an imposing array of new cutlery; 
and a dozen snuff boxes, or shaving boxes, made a 
great show, fastened on round junks of wood. 

' But although it must be allowed that this was a 
clever and innocent artifice,' says Lawrie Todd, 'yet, 
like other dealers in the devices of cunning, I had 
not been circumspect at all points ; for by mistake, I 
happened to tie a round shaving box on a brick sub- 
terfuge, which a sly, pawky old Scotchman, who 
sometimes stepped in for a crack, observed. 

' Ay, mon,' says he, ' but ye hae unco' queer things 
here. Wha ever saw a four corner' t shaving box ? ' — 
Whereupon we had a hearty good laugh. 'Od,' he 
resumed, ' but ye' re an auld farrant chappy, and no 
doot but ye' 11 do weel in this country, where pawkrie 
is no' an ill nest-egg to begin with.' 

There is, however, no ' pawkrie' about his flowers 
and garden-seeds ; they are genuine, and the best of 
their kind ; as their celebrity throughout the country 
abundantly testifies. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 65 

I begged of the gardener a single sprig of acacia, 
whose light, feathery, yellow foliage looked like a pet 
plaything of the breezes ; and which for the first time 
enabled me to understand clearly Moore's poetic de- 
scription of the Desert, where the 'Acacia waves her 
yellow hair.' 

I likewise took with me a geranium leaf, as a me- 
mento of the rose-geranium which Grant Thorburn 
accidentally bought in fr the day of small beginnings, 
and which proved the nucleus of his present floral 
fame, and blooming fortune. The gardener likewise 
presented us with a bouquet of dahlias, magnificent 
enough for the hand-screen of a Sultana ; but this 
politeness I think we owed to certain beautiful young 
ladies who accompanied us. 

Altogether, it was a charming excursion ; and I 
came away pleased with the garden and its environs, 
and pleased with the old gentleman, whose dwarf- 
like figure disappointed me agreeably ; for, from his 
own description, I was prepared to find him ungainly 
and mis-shapen. I no longer deem it so very marvel- 
lous that his Rebecca should have preferred the poor, 
canny little Scotchman to her rich New-York lover. 

As I never deserved to be called ' Mrs. Leo Hun- 
ter,' you will, perhaps, be surprised at the degree of 
interest I express in this man, whose claims to dis- 
tinction are merely the having amassed wealth by 
his own industry and shrewdness, and having his ad- 
ventures told by Gait's facetious pen. The accumu- 
lation of dollars and cents, I grant, is a form of power 
the least attractive of any to the imagination ; but 
yet, as an indication of ability of some sort, it is at- 
tractive to a degree ; and moreover there is some- 
thing in mere success which interests us — because 
it is a stimulus which the human mind spontaneously 
seeks, and without which it cannot long retain its 
energies. Added to this, there is a roseate gleam of 
romance, resting on the shrewd Scotchman's life. 
6# 



66 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

First, there is a sober sentiment, a quaint, homely- 
pathos, in his account of his first love, which wraps 
the memory of his patient, quiet Rebecca in a sacred 
veil of tender reverence. Secondly, lie is a sort of 
High Priest of Flora; and though not precisely such 
an one as would have been chosen to tend the shrine 
of her Roman Temple, yet this will give him a po- 
etic claim upon my interest, so long as the absorbing 
love of beauty renders a Flower-Merchant more at- 
tractive to my fancy than a dealer in grain. 

Were I not afraid of wearying your patience with 
descriptions of scenery, I would talk of the steam- 
boat passage from Ravenswood ; for indeed it is very 
beautiful. But I forbear all allusion to the gliding 
boats, the vernal forests, falling in love with their 
own shadows in the river, and the cozy cottages, 
peeping out from the foliage with their pleasant, 
friendly faces. I have placed the lovely landscape 
in the halls of memory, where I can look upon it 
whenever my soul needs the bounteous refreshings of 
nature. I congratulate myself for having added this 
picture to my gallery, as a blessing for the weary 
months that are coming upon us ; for Summer has 
waved her last farewell, as she passed away over the 
summit of the sunlit hills, and 1 can already spy the 
waving white locks of old Winter, as he conies hob- 
bling up, before the gale, on the other side. I could 
forgive him the ague-fit he bestows on poor Summer, 
as she hurries by ; but the plague of it is, he will 
stand gossiping with Spring's green fairy, till every 
tooth chatters in her sweet little head. 

Now, of a truth, my friend, I have been meaning 
to write sober sense ; but what is written, is written. 
As the boy said of his whistling, ' it did itself.' I 
would gladly have shown more practical good sense, 
and talked wisely on ' the spirit of the age,' ' pro- 
gress of the species,' and the like ; but I believe, in 
my soul, fairies keep carnival all the year round in 
my poor brain ; for even when I first wake, I find a 



LE FROM NEW YORK. 67 

magic ring of tinted mushrooms, to show where their 
midnight dance has been. But I did not bore you 
with scenery, and you should give me credit for that ; 
we who live cooped up in cities, are so apt to forget 
that any body but ourselves ever sees blue sky enough 
for a suit of bed curtains, or butter-cups and green- 
sward sufficient for a flowered coverlet. ' Don't crow 
till you're out of the wood,' though ; for the afore- 
said picture hangs in the hall, and I may yet draw 
aside the curtain and give you a peep, if you are 
very curious. Real pictures, like everything else 
real, cannot be bought with cash. Old Mammon buys 
nothing but shadows. My gallery beats that of the 
Duke of Devonshire ; for it is filled with originals by 
the oldest masters, and not a copy among them all ; 
and, better still, the sheriff cannot seize them, let him 
do his worst ; others may prove property in the same, 
but they lie safely beyond the reach of trover or 
replevin. 

As we passed Black well's Island, I looked with 
thoughtful sadness on the handsome stone edifice 
erected there for a Lunatic Asylum. On another part 
of the island is a Penitentiary ; likewise a noble build- 
ing, though chilling the heart with its barred doors 
and grated windows. The morally and the intellec- 
tually insane — should they not both be treated with 
great tenderness 7 It is a question for serious thought ; 
and phrenology, with all its absurd quackery on its 
back, will yet aid mankind in giving the fitting an- 
swer. There has at least been kindness evinced in 
the location chosen ; for if free breezes, beautiful ex- 
panse of water, quiet, rural scenery, and ' the blue 
sky that bends o'er all,' can ' minister to the mind 
diseased,' then surely these forlorn outcasts of society 
may here find God's best physicians for their shat- 
tered nerves. 

Another object which interested me exceedingly 
was the Long-Island Farm School, for foundlings 
and orphans. Six or eight hundred children are here 



G8 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

carefully tended by a matron and her assistants, un- 
til they are old enough to go out to service or trades. 
Their extensive play-ground runs along the shore : a 
place of as sweet natural influences as could well be 
desired. I thought of the squalid little wretches I 
had seen at Five Points, whose greatest misfortune 
was that they were not orphans. I thought of the 
crowd of sickly infants in Boston alms-house — the 
innocent victims of hereditary vice. And my heart 
ached, that it could see no end to all this misery, 
though it heard it, in the far-off voice of prophesy. 



LETTER X. 

OctoWer 21, 1841. 

In a great metropolis like this, nothing is more ob- 
servable than the infinite varieties of character. Al- 
most without effort, one may happen to find himself, 
in the course of a few days, beside the Catholic 
kneeling before the Cross, the Mohammedan bowing 
to the East, the Jew veiled before the ark of the tes- 
timony, the Baptist walking into the water, the 
Quaker keeping his head covered in the presence of 
dignitaries and solemnities of all sorts, and the Mor- 
mon quoting from the Golden Jiook which he has 
never seen. 

More, perhaps, than any other city, except Paris 
or New Orleans, this is a place of rapid fluctuation, 
and never-ceasing change. A large portion of the 
population are like mute actors, who tramp across 
the stage in pantomime or pageant, and are seen no 
more. The enterprising, the curious, the reckless, 
and the criminal, flock hither from all quarters of 
the world, as to a common centre, whence they can 
diverge at pleasure. Where men are little known, 
they are imperfectly restrained ; therefore, great 
numbers here live with somewhat of that wild 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 69 

license which prevails in times of pestilence. Life is 
a reckless game, and death is a business transaction. 
Warehouses of ready-made coffins, stand beside 
warehouses of ready-made clothing, and the shroud 
is sold with spangled opera-dresses. Nay, you may 
chance to see exposed at sheriffs' sales, in public 
squares, piles of coffins, like nests of boxes, one with- 
in another, with a hole bored in the topmost lid to 
sustain the red flag of the auctioneer, who stands by, 
describing their conveniences and merits, with all the 
exaggerating eloquence of his tricky trade. 

There is something impressive, even to painful- 
ness, in this dense crowding of human existence, this 
mercantile familiarity with death. It has sometimes 
forced upon me, for a few moments, an appalling 
night-mare sensation of vanishing identity ; as if I 
were but an unknown, unnoticed, and unseparated 
drop in the great ocean of human existence ; as if 
the uncomfortable old theory were true, and we were 
but portions of' a Great Mundane Soul, to which we 
ultimately return, to be swallowed up in its infinity. 
But such ideas I expel at once, like phantasms of 
evil, which indeed they are. Unprofitable to all, 
they have a peculiarly bewildering and oppressive 
power over a mind constituted like my own ; so prone 
to eager questioning of the infinite, and curious 
search into the invisible. I find it wiser to forbear 
inflating this balloon of thought, lest it roll me away 
through unlimited space, until I become like the ab- 
sent man, who put his clothes in bed, and hung him- 
self over the chair ; or like his twin-brother, who 
laid his candle on the pillow, and blew himself out. 

You will, at least, my dear friend, give these let- 
ters the credit of being utterly unpremeditated ; for 
Flibbertigibbet himself never moved with more un- 
expected and incoherent variety. I have wandered 
almost as far from my starting point, as Saturn's 
ring is from Mercury ; but I will return to the vari- 
eties in New York. Among them I often meet a tall 



70 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Scotsman, with sandy hair and high cheek bones — 
a regular Sawney, with tartan plaid and bag-pipe. 
And where do yon gness he most frequently plies his 
poetic trade I Why, in the slaughter-houses ! of 
which a hundred or more send forth their polluted 
breath into the atmosphere of this swarming city 
hive ! There, if you are curious to witness incon- 
gruities, you may almost any day see grunting pigs 
or bleating lambs, with throats cut to the tune of 
Highland Mary, or Bonny Doon, or Lochaber No 
More. 

Among those who have flitted across my path, iu 
this thoroughfare of nations, few have interested me 
more strongly than an old sea-captain, who needed 
only Sir Walter's education, his wild excursions 
through solitary dells and rugged mountain-passes, 
and his familiarity with legendary lore, to make him, 
too, a poet and a romancer. Untutored as he was, 
a rough son of the ocean, he had combined in his 
character the rarest elements of fun and pathos ; side 
by side they glanced through his conversation, in a 
manner almost Shaksperean. They shone, like- 
wise, in his weather-beaten countenance ; for he 
had ' the eye of Wordsworth and the mouth of Mo- 
lierc." 

One of his numerous stories particularly impressed 
my imagination, and remains there like a cabinet 
picture, by Claude. He said he was once on board 
a steamboat full of poor foreigners, going up the Mis- 
sissippi to some place of destination in the yet unset- 
tled wilderness. The room, where these poor emi- 
grants were huddled together, was miserable enough. 
In one corner, two dissipated-looking fellows were 
squatted on the floor, playing all-fours with dirty 
cards ; in another, lay a victim of intemperance, 
senseless, with a bottle in his hand ; in another, a 
young Englishman, dying of consumption — kindly 
tended by a venerable Swiss emigrant, with his help- 
ful wife, and artless daughter*. The Englishman 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 71 

was an intelligent, well-informed yonng man, who, 
being unable to marry the object of his choice, with 
any chance of comfortable support in his own 
country, had come to prepare a home for his beloved 
in the Eldorado of the West. A neglected cold 
brought on lung fever, which left him in a rapid de- 
cline ; but still, full of hope, he was pushing on for 
the township where he had planned for himself a 
domestic paradise. He was now among strangers, 
and felt that death was nigh. The Swiss emigrants 
treated him with that thoughtful, jealous tenderness, 
which springs from genial hearts deeply imbued with 
the religious sentiment. One wish of his soul they 
could not gratify, by reason of their ignorance. Be- 
ing too weak to hold a pen, he earnestly desired to 
dictate to some one else a letter to his mother and 
his betrothed. This, Captain T. readily consented 
to do ; and promised, so far as in him lay, to carry 
into effect any arrangements he might wish to make. 
Soon after this melancholy duty was fulfilled, the 
young sufferer departed. When the steam-boat ar- 
rived at its final destination, the kind-hearted Cap- 
tain T. made the best arrangements he could for a 
decent burial. There was no chaplain on board*; 
and, unused as he was to the performance of relig- 
ious ceremonies, he himself read the funeral service 
from a book of Common Prayer, found in the young 
stranger's trunk. The body was tenderly placed 
on a board, and carried out face upwards, into the 
silent solitude of the primeval forest. The sun, ver- 
ging to the west, cast oblique glances through the 
foliage, and played on the pale face in flickering 
light and shadow. Even the most dissipated of the 
emigrants were sobered by a scene so touching and 
so solemn, and all followed reverently in procession. 
Having dug the grave, they laid him carefully with- 
in, and replaced the sods above him ; then, sadly 
and thoughtfully, they returned slowly to the 
boat. 



72 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Subdued to tender melancholy by the scene he had 
witnesssed, and the unusual service he had perform- 
ed, Captain T. avoided company, and wandered off 
alone into the woods. Unquiet questionings, and far- 
reaching thoughts of God and immortality, lifted his 
soul towards the Eternal ; and heedless of his foot- 
steps, he lost his way in the windings of the forest. 
A widely devious and circuitous route brought him 
within sound of human voices. It was a gushing 
melody, taking its rest in sweetest cadences. With 
pleased surprise, he followed it, and came, suddenly 
and unexpectedly, in view of the new-made grave. 
The kindly Swiss matron, and her innocent daugh- 
ter, had woven a large and beautiful Cross, from the 
broad leaves of the papaw tree, and twined it with 
the pure white blossoms of the trailing convolvulus. 
They had placed it reverently at the head of the 
stranger's grave, and kneeling before it, chanted their 
evening hymn to the Virgin.. A glowing twilight 
shed its rosy flush on the consecrated symbol, and 
the modest, friendly faces of those humble worship- 
pers. Thus beautifully they paid their tribute of 
respect to the unknown one, of another faith, and a 
foreign clime, who had left home and kindred, to die 
among strangers in the wilderness. 

How would the holy gracefulness of this scene 
have melted the heart of his mother and his beloved ! 

I had many more things to say to you ; but I will 
leave them unsaid. I leave you alone with this 
sweet picture, that your memory may consecrate it 
as mine has done. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 73 



LETTER XL 

December 9, I84T. 

A friend passing by the Methodist church in Eliz- 
abeth street, heard such loud and earnest noises is- 
suing therefrom, that he stepped in to ascertain the 
cause. A coloured woman was preaching to a full 
audience, and in a manner so remarkable that his 
attention was at once rivetted. The account he gave 
excited my curiosity, and I sought an interview with 
the woman, whom I ascertained to be Julia Pell, of 
Philadelphia. I learned from her that her father was 
one of the innumerable tribe of fugitives from slavery, 
assisted by that indefatigable friend of the oppress- 
ed, Isaac T. Hopper. This was quite a pleasant sur- 
prise to the benevolent old gentleman, for he was not 
aware that any of Zeek's descendants were living ; 
and it was highly interesting to him to find one of 
them in the person of this female Whitfield. Julia 
never knew her father by the name of Zeek ; for that 
was his appellation in slavery, and she had known 
him only as a freeman. Zeek, it seems, had been 
1 sold running,' as the term is ; that is, a purchaser 
had given a very small part of his original value, ta- 
king the risk of not catching him. In Philadelphia, a 
coloured man, named Samuel Johnson, heard a gen- 
tleman making inquiries concerning a slave called 
Zeek, whom he had ' bought running.' ' I know 
him very well,' said Samuel ; 4 as well as I do my- 
self ; he's a good-for-nothing chap ; and you'll be 
better without him than with him.' ' Do you think 
so V '• Yes ; if you gave what you say for him, it 
was a bite — that's all. He's a lazy, good-for-nothing 
dog ; and you'd better sell your right in him the first 
chance yon get. 5 After some further talk, Sam- 
7 



74 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

uel acknowledged that Zeek was his brother. The 
gentleman advised him to buy him ; but Samuel 
protested that he was such a lazy, vicious dog, that 
he wanted nothing to do with him. The gentleman 
began to have so bad an opinion of his bargain, that 
he offered to sell the fugitive for sixty dollars. Sam- 
uel, with great apparent indifference, accepted the 
terms, and the necessary papers were drawn. Isaac 
T. Hopper was in the room during the whole trans- 
action ; and the coloured man requested him to ex- 
amine the papers to see that all was right. Being 
assured that everything was in due form, he inquired, 
' And is Zeek now free V i Yes, entirely free.' 
' Suppose I was Zeek, and that was the man that 
bought me ; couldn't he take me ]' c Not any more 
than he could take me,' said Isaac. As soon as Sam- 
uel received this assurance, he made a low bow to 
the gentleman, and, with additional fun in a face al- 
ways roguish, said, ' Your servant, sir ; I am Zeek V 
The roguishness characteristic of her father is reflec- 
ted in some degree in Julia's intelligent face ; but 
imagination, uncultivated, yet highly poetic, is her 
leading characteristic. 

Some have the idea that our destiny is prophesied 
in early presentiments : thus, Hannah More, when 
a little child, used to play, ' Go up to London and 
see the bishops' — an object for which she afterwards 
sacrificed a large portion of her own moral indepen- 
dence and freedom of thought. In Julia Pell's case, 
' coming events cast their shadows before.' I asked 
her when she thought she first ' experienced relig- 
ion.' She replied, ' When I was a little girl, father 
and mother used to go away to meeting on Sundays, 
and leave me and my brothers at home all day. So, 
I thought I'd hold class-meetings as the Methodists 
did. The children all round in the neighborhood 
used to come to hear me preach. The neighbours 
complained that we made such a noise, shouting and 
singing : and every Monday father gave us a whip- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 75 

ping. Xt last, he said to mother, < I'm tired of beat- 
ing these poor children every week to satisfy our 
neighbours. I'll send for my sister to come, and she 
will stay at home on Sundays, and keep them out of 
mischief.' So my aunt was brought to take care of 
us ; and the next Sunday, when the children came 
thronging to hear me preach, they were greatly dis- 
appointed indeed to hear me say, in a mournful way, 
' We can't have any more meetings now ; because 
aunt's come, and she won't let us.' When my aunt 
heard this, she seemed to pity me and the children ; 
and she said if we would get through before the 
folks came home, we might hold a meeting ; for she 
should like to see for herself what it was we did, 
that made such a fuss among the neighbours. Then 
we had a grand meeting. My aunt's heart was ta- 
ken hold of that very day ; and when we all began 
to sing, ' Come to the Saviour, poor sinner, come !' 
she cried, and I cried ; and when we had done cry- 
in-, the whole of us broke out singing ' Come to the 
SaviQur.' That very instant I felt my heart leap 
up, as if a great load had been taken right off of 
it ! That was the beginning of my getting religion ■ 
and for many years after that, I saw all the time a 
blue smoke rising before my eyes— the whole time a 
blue smoke rising, rising.' As she spoke, she imita- 
ted the ascent of smoke, by a graceful, undulating 
motion of her hand. 

' What do you suppose was the meaning of the 
blue smoke ? ' said I. 

' I don t know, indeed, ma'am; but I always sup- 
posed it was my sins rising before me, from the bot- 
tomless pit.' 

She told me that when her mother died, some years 
after, she called her to her bed-side, and said, 'Julia, 
the work of grace is only begun in you. You haven't 
got religion yet. When you can freely forgive all 
your enemies, and love to do them good, then you 
may know that the true work is completed within 



76 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

you.' I thought the wisest schools of theology could 
not have established a better test. 

I asked Julia, if she had ever tried to learn to read. 
She replied, 'Yes, ma'am, I tried once; because I 
thought it would be such a convenience, if I could 
read the Bible for myself. I made good progress, and 
in a short time could spell B-a-k-e-r, as well as any- 
body. But it dragged my mind down. It dragged 
it down. When I tried to think, every thing scattered 
away like smoke, and I could do nothing but spell. 
Once I got up in an evening meeting to speak ; and 
when I wanted to say, ' Behold the days come,' I 
began i B-a — .' I was dreadfully ashamed, and con- 
cluded Fd give up trying to learn to read.' 

These, and several other particulars I learned of 
Julia, at the house of Isaac T. Hopper. When about 
to leave us, she said she felt moved to pray. Accor- 
dingly, we all remained in silence, while she poured 
forth a brief, but very impressive prayer for her ven- 
erable host ; of whom she spoke as ' that good old 
man, whom thou, O Lord, hast raised up to do such 
a blessed work for my down- trodden people.' 

Julia's quiet, dignified, and even lady-like deport- 
ment in the parlor, did not seem at all in keeping 
with what I had been told of her in the pulpit, with 
a voice like a sailor at mast-head, and muscular ac- 
tion like Garrick in Mad Tom. On the Sunday fol- 
lowing, I went to hear her for myself; and in good 
truth, I consider the event as an era in my life never 
to be forgotten. Such an odd jumbling together of 
all sorts of things in Scripture, such wild fancies, 
beautiful, sublime, or grotesque, such vehemence of 
gesture, such dramatic attitudes, I never before heard 
and witnessed. I verily thought she would have 
leaped over the pulpit ; and if she had, I was almost 
prepared to have seen her poise herself on unseen 
wings, above the wondering congregation. 

I know not whether her dress was of her own choo- 
sing ; but it was tastefully appropriate. A black silk 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 77 

gown, with plain, white cuffs : a white muslin ker- 
chief, folded neatly over the breast, and crossed by 
a broad black scarf, like that which bishops wear 
over the surplice. 

She began with great moderation, gradually rising 
in her tones, until she arrived at the shouting pitch, 
common with Methodists. This she sustained for an 
incredible time, without taking breath, and with a 
huskiness of effort, that produced a painful sympathy 
in my own lungs. Imagine the following, thus ut- 
tered ; that is, spoken without punctuation. ' Silence 
in Heaven ! The Lord said to Gabriel, bid all the 
angels keep silence. Go up into the third heavens, 
and tell the archangels to hush their golden harps. 
Let the mountains be filled with silence. Let the 
sea stop its roaring, and the earth be still. What's 
the matter now I Why, man has sinned, and who 
shall save him '? Let there be silence, while God 
makes search for a Messiah. Go down to the earth ; 
make haste, Gabriel, and inquire if any there are 
worthy; and Gabriel returned and said, No, not one. 
Go search among the angels, Gabriel, and inquire if 
any there are worthy ; make haste, Gabriel ; and Ga- 
briel returned and said, No, not one. But don't be 
discouraged. Don't be discouraged, fellow sinners. 
God arose in his majesty, and he pointed to his own 
right hand, and said to Gabriel, Behold the Lion of 
the tribe of Judah ; he alone is worthy. He shall 
redeem my people.' 

You will observe it was purely her own idea, that 
silence reigned on earth and in heaven, while search 
was made for a Messiah. It was a beautifully poet- 
ic conception, not unworthy of Milton. 

Her description of the resurrection and the day of 
judgment, must have been terrific to most of her au- 
dience, and was highly exciting even to me, whose 
religious sympathies could never be roused by fear. 
Her figure looked strangely fantastic, aud even su- 
7# 



73 BETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

pcrnatural, as she loomed up above the puipit, to 
represent the spirits rising from their graves. So 
powerful was her rude eloquence, that it continually 

impressed me with grandeur, and onee only excited 
a smile : that was when she described a saint striving 
to vise, 'buried perhaps twenty feet deep, with three 
or four sinners a top of him.' 

This reminded me of a verse in Dr. Nettleton's 
Village Hymns : 

' Oh how the resurrection light 
Will clarify believers' sight, 
How joyful will the saints arise, 
And rub the dust from oil' their eyes.' 

With a power of imagination singularly strong and 
vivid, she described the resurrection of a young girl, 
who had died a sinner. Her body came from the 
grave, and her soul from the pit, where it had been 
tormented for many y<"irs. ' The guilty spirit came 
up with the flames all around it — rolling— rolling — 
rolling." She suited the action to the word, as Sid- 
dons herself might have done. Then she descrihed 
the body wailing and shrieking, { Lord! must I 
take that ghost again I Must 1 be tormented with 
that burning ghost for ever'?' 

Luckily for the excited feelings of her audience, 
she changed the scene, and brought before us the 
gospel ship, laden with saints, and hound for the 
heavenly shore. The majestic motion of a vessel on 
the heaving sea, and the fluttering of its pennon in 
the breeze, was imitated with wild gracefulness by 
the motion of her hands. 'It touched the strand. 
Oh ! it was a pretty morning ! and at the first tap 
of Heaven's bell, the angels came crowding round, to 
bid them welcome. There you and I shall meet, 
my beloved fellow-travellers. Farewell — Farewell 
— I have it in my tomporal feelings that I shall nev- 
er set foot in this New York again. Farewell on 
earth, but I shall m?et you there,' pointing reverently 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 79 

upward. ' May we all be aboard that blessed ship !' 
Snouts throughout the audience, ' We will ! We 
will !' Stirred by such responses, Julia broke 
out with redoubled fervour. ' Farewell — fare- 
well. Let the world say what they will of me, I 
shall surely meet you in Heaven's broad bay. Hell # 
clutched me, but it hadn't energy enough to hold 
me. Farewell on earth. I shall meet you in the 
morning.' Again and again she tossed her arms a- 
broad, and uttered her wild ' farewell ;' responded 
to by the loud farewell of a whole congregation, like 
the shouts of an excited populace. Her last words 
were the poetic phrase, ' / shall meet you in the 
morning /' 

Her audience w r ere wrought up to the highest pitch 
of enthusiasm I ever witnessed. ' That's God's 
truth !' ' Glory !' ' Amen !' 'Hallelujah !' resound- 
ed throughout the crowded house. Emotion vent- 
ed itself in murmuring, stamping, shouting, singing, 
and wailing. It was like the uproar of a sea lashed 
by the winds. 

You know that religion has always come to me in 
stillness ; and that the machinery of theological ex- 
citement has ever been as powerless over my soul, 
as would be the exorcisms of a wizard. You are 
likewise aware of my tendency to generalize ; to 
look at truth as universal, not merely in its particu- 
lar relations ; to observe human nature as a whole, 
and not in fragments. This propensity, greatly 
strengthened by the education of circumstances, has 
taught me to look calmly on all forms of religious . 
opinion — not with the indifference, or the scorn, of 
unbelief ; but with a friendly wish to discover ev- 
erywhere the great central ideas common to all relig- 
ious souls, though often re-appearing in the strang- 
est disguises, and lisping or jabbering in the most 
untranslatable tones. 

Yet combined as my religious character is, of qui- 
et mysticism, and the coolest rationality, will you 



80 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

believe me, I could scarcely refrain from shouting 
Hurrah for that heaven-bound ship ! and the tears 
rolled down my cheeks, as that dusky priestess of 
eloquence reiterated her wild and solemn farewell. 

If she gained such power over my spirit, there is 
no cause to marvel at the tremendous excitement 
"throughout an audience so ignorant, and so keenly 
susceptible to outward impressions. I knew not 
how the high-wrought enthusiasm would be let 
down in safety. The shouts died away, and return- 
ed in shrill fragments of echoes, like the trembling 
vibrations of a harp, swept with a strong hand, to 
the powerful music of a war-song. Had I remem- 
bered a lively Methodist tune, as well as I recollect- 
• ed the words, I should have broke forth : 

1 The gospel ship is sailing by ! 
The Ark of >afety now is nigh ; 
Come, sinners, unto Jesus fly, 
Improve the day of grace. 
Oh, there'll be glory, hallelujah, 
When we all arrive at home !' 

The same instinct that guided me, impelled the au- 
dience to seek rest in music, for their panting spirits 
and quivering nerves. All joined spontaneously in 
singing an old familiar tune, more quiet than the 
bounding, billowy tones of my favourite Gospel 
Ship. Blessings on music ! Like a gurgling brook 
to feverish lips are sweet sounds to the heated and 
weary soul. 

Everybody round me could sing ; and the tones 
( were soft and melodious. The gift of song is uni^ 
versal with Africans ; and the fact is a prophetic 
one. Sculpture blossomed into its fullest perfection 
in a Physical Age, on which dawned the intellec- 
tual ; Painting blossomed in an Intellectual Age, 
warmed by the rising sun of moral sentiment ; and 
now Music goes forward to its culmination in the 
coming Spiritual Age. Now is the time that Ethi- 
opia begins ' to stretch forth her hands.' Her soul, 



"LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 81 

so long silenced, will yet utter itself in music's high- 
est harmony. 

When the audience paused, Mr. Matthews, their 
pastor, rose to address them. He is a religious-minded 
man, to whose good influence Julia owes, under God, 
her present state of mind. She always calls him 
' father,' and speaks of him with the most affection- 
ate and grateful reverence. At one period of her life, 
it seems that she was led astray by temptations, 
which peculiarly infest the path of colored women in 
large cities ; but ever since her ' conversion to God,' 
she has been strictly exemplary in her walk and con- 
versation. In her own expressive language, ' Hell 
clutched her, but hadn't energy enough to hold her.' 
The missteps of her youth are now eagerly recalled by 
those who love to stir polluted waters ; and they are 
brought forward as reasons why she ought not to be al- 
lowed to preach. I was surprised to learn that to this 
prejudice was added another, against women's preach- 
ing. This seemed a strange idea for Methodists, some 
of whose brightest ornaments have been women preach- 
ers. As far back as Adam Clarke's time, his objec- 
tions were met by the answer, ' If an ass reproved 
Balaam, and a barn-door fowl reproved Peter, why 
shouldn't a woman reprove sin? 

This classification with donkeys and fowls is cer- 
tainly not very complimentary. The first compari- 
son I heard most wittily replied to, by a colored wo- 
man who had once been a slave. ' Maybe a speak- 
ing woman is like an Ass,' said she ; ' but I can tell 
you one thing — the Ass saw the angel, when Balaam 
didn't,' 

Father Matthews, after apologizing for various 
misquotations of Scripture, on the ground of Julia's 
inability to read, added : — ' But the Lord has evi- 
dently called this woman to a great work. He has 
made her mighty to the salvation of many souls, as 
a cloud of witnesses can testify. Some say she ought 
not to preach, because she is a woman. But I say 3 



82 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

' Let the Lord send by whom he will send.' Let 
everybody that has a message, deliver it — whether 
man or woman, white or colored ! Some say wo- 
men mustn't preach, because they were first in the 
transgression : but it seems to me hard that if thev 
helped ns into sin, they shouldn't be suffered to help 
us out. I say, ' Let the Lord send by whom he will 
send;' and my pulpit shall be always open.' 

Thus did the good man instil a free principle into 
those uneducated minds, like gleams of light through 
chinks in a prison-wall. Who can foretell its mani- 
fold and ever-increasing results in the history of that 
long-crippled race \ Verily great is the Advent of a 
true Idea, made manifest to men ; and great are the 
miracles it works — making the blind to see, and the 
lame to walk. 



LETTER XII. 

Jiinnary I, 1842. 

I wish you a Happy New Year. A year of brave 
conflict with evil, within and without — a year of 
sinless victories. Would that some fairy, whose 
word fulfils itself in fate, would wish me such a 
year ! Yet scarcely are the words written, when I 
fall to pitying myself, in view of the active images 
they have conjured up ; and my soul turns, with 
wistful gaze, towards the green pastures and still 
waters of spiritual quietude, and poetic ease. Yet 
were the aforesaid fairy standing before me, ready 
to" grant whatsoever I might ask. I think I should 
have strength enough to choose a year of conflict for 
the good of my race ; but it should be warfare with- 
out poisoned arrows, and fought on the broad table- 
land of high mountains, never descending into the 
narrow by-paths of personal controversy, or chasing 
its foe through the crooked lanes of policy. In all 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 83 

ages of the world, Truth has suffered much at the 
hands of her disciples, because they have been ever 
tempted to use the weapons her antagonists have 
chosen. Let us learn wisdom by the Past. The 
warnings that sigh through experience, and the hope 
that smiles through prophecy, both have power to 
strengthen us. 

The Past and the Future ! how vast is the sound, 
how infinite the significance ! Hast thou well con- 
sidered of the fact, that all the Past is reproduced in 
thee, and all the Future prophesied] Had not Pha- 
raoh's daughter saved the Hebrew babe, and brought 
him up in all the learning of the Egyptians ; had not 
Plato's soul uttered itself in harmony with the great 
choral hymn of the universe : had not Judean shep- 
herds listened in the deep stillness of moonlight, on 
the mountains, to angels chanting forth the primal 
notes whence all music flows — Worship, Peace, and 
Love : had any one of these been silent, wouldst thou 
have been what thou art 1 Nay, thou wouldst have 
been altogether another ; unable even to comprehend 
thy present self. Had Christianity remained in dens 
and caves, instead of clothing itself in outward sym- 
bols of grandeur and of beauty; had cathedrals never 
risen in towered state, 

* And over hill and dell 

Gone sounding with a royal voice 

The stately minster bell ; ' 

had William the Norman never divided Saxon lands 
by force, and then united his new piratical state in 
solemn marriage with the Church ; had Luther never 
thrown his inkstand at the Devil, and hit him hard ; 
had Bishop Laud never driven heretics, by fire and 
faggot, to the rocky shores of New England ; had 
William Penn taken off his hat to the Duke of York 
— would thy present self have been known' to thy- 
self, couldst thou have seen its features in a mirror ? 
Nay, verily. Thou art made up of all that has 
preceded thee ; and thus was thy being predestined 



84 LETTERS FRO:VI NEW YORK. 

And because it is thus in the inward spirit, it 
is so in the outward world. Onr very shawls bear 
ornaments found in Egyptian catacombs, and onr 
sofas rest on the mysterious Sphinx ; Caryatides, 
which upheld the roof of Diana's ancient temple y 
stand with the same quiet and graceful majesty, to 
sustain the lighter burden of our candelabras and 
lamps ; and the water of modern wells flows into 
vases, whose beautiful forms were dug from the lava 
of long-buried Herculaneum. 

Truth is immortal. No fragment of it ever dies. 
From time to time, the body dies off it ; but it rises 
in a more perfect form, leaving its grave-clothes be- 
hind it, to be, perchance, worshipped as living 
things, by those who love to watch among the tombs. 
Every line of beauty is the expression of a thought, 
and shares the immortality of its origin ; hence the* 
beautiful acanthus leaf is transferred from Corinthi- 
an capitals to Parisian scarfs and English calicoes. 

It is said that the bow of a violin drawn across 
the edge of a glass covered with sand, leaves notes of 
music written on the sand. Thus do the vibrations of 
the Present leave its tune engraven on the soul : and 
in the lapse of time, we call those written notes the 
language of the Past. Thus art thou the child of the 
Past, and the father of the Future. Thou standest 
on the Present, ' like the sea-bird on a rock, in mid 
ocean, with the immensity of waters behind him, 
ready to plunge into the immensity of waters before 
him.' 

Art thou a Reformer ? Beware of the dangers of 
thy position. Let not the din of the noisy Present 
drown the music of the Past. Be assured there is 
no tone comes to thee from the far-off ocean of olden 
time, which is not a chord in the eternal anthem of 
the universe ; else had it been drowned in the roar- 
ing waves, long before it came to thee. 

Reform as thou wilt ; for the Present and the Fu- 
ture have need of this ; but let no rude scorn breathe 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 85 

on the Past. Lay thy head lovingly in her lap ; 
and let the glance of her eye pass into thine ; for 
she has been to thee a mother. 

' I can scorn nothing which a nation's heart 
Hath held for ages holy : for the heart 
Is alike holy in its strength and weakness ; 
It ought not to be jested with nor scorned. 
All things to me are sacred that have been. 
And though earth like a river streaked with blood, 
Which tells a long and silent tale of death, 
May blush her history and hide her eyes, 
The Past is sacred — it is God's, not ours ; 
Let her and us do better if we can.' 

At no season does the thoughtful soul so much re- 
alize that it ever stands ' between two infinities,' — 
never does it so distinctly recognise the presence of 
vast ideas, that look before and after, as when the 
Old Year turns away its familiar face, and goes off 
to join its veiled sisterhood beyond the flood. It is 
true that every day ends a year, and that which pre- 
cedes our birth-day does, in an especial manner, end 
our year ; yet is there somewhat peculiarly impres- 
sive in that epoch, which whole nations recognise as 
a foot-print of departing time. 

The season itself has a wailing voice. The very 
sky in spring-time laughingly says, l How do you 
do V but in winter it looks a mute farewell. ' The 
year is dying away,' says Goethe, ' like the sound 
of bells. The wind passes over the stubble, and 
finds nothing to move. Only the red berries of that 
slender tree seem as if they would fain remind us of 
something cheerful ; and the measured beat of the 
thresher's flail calls up the thought that in the dry 
and fallen ear lies so much of nourishment and life. 1 

Thus Hope springs ever from the bosom of sad- 
ness. A welcome to the New Year mingles with 
our fond farewell to the old. Hail to the Present, 
8 



86 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

with all the work that it brings ! Its restlessness, if 
looked at aright, becomes a golden prophecy. We 
will not read its prose, and count our stops, as 
schools have taught ; but the heart shall chant it ; 
and tones shall change the words to music, that shall 
write itself on all coming time. 

^tr -it -^ 4tr -it' -il? *4k -iU 

TT TV" "TV" -7T ^* -TT Tv TV 

New York welcomes the new year, in much the 
same style that she does every thing else. She is 
not prone, as the Quakers say, ' to get into the still- 
ness,' to express any of her emotions. Such a hub- 
bub as was kept up on the night of the 31st, I never 
heard. Such a firing out of the old year, and such 
a firing in of the new ! Fourth of July in Boston is 
nothing compared to it. The continual discharge of 
guns and pistols prevented my reading or writing in 
peace, and I took refuge in bed ; but every five min- 
utes a lurid flash darted athwart the walls, followed 
by the hateful crash of fire-arms. If any good thing 
is expressed by that sharp voice, it lies beyond the 
power of my imagination to discover it ; why men 
should choose it for the utterance of joy, is more than 
I can tell. 

The racket of these powder-devilkins kept me 
awake till two o'clock. At five, I was roused by a 
stout Hibernian voice, almost under my window, 
shouting ' Pa-ther ! ' ' Pa-ther ! ' Peter did not an- 
swer, and off went a pistol. Upon this, Peter 

was fain to put his head out of the window, and in- 
quire what was wanted. ' A bright New Year to 
ye, Pa-ther. Get up and open the door.' 

The show in the shop-windows, during the week 
between Christmas and New Year's, was splendid, I 
assure you. All that Parisian taste, or English skill 
could furnish, was spread out to tempt the eye. How 
I did want the wealth of Rothschild, that I might 
make all the world a present! and then, methinks, I 
could still long for another world to endow. The 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 87 

happiness of Heaven must consist in loving and giv- 
ing. What else is there worth living for? I have 
often involuntarily applied to myself a remark made 
by Madam Roland. ' Reflecting upon what part I 
was fitted to perform in the world,' says she, 'I could 
never think of any that quite satisfied me, but that 
of Divine Providence.' To some this may sound 
blasphemous ; it was however merely the spontane- 
ous and childlike utterance of a loving and liberal 
soul. 

Though no great observer of times and seasons, I 
do like the universal custom of ushering in the new 
year with gifts and gladsome wishes. I will not call 
these returning seasons notches cut in a stick, to 
count our prison hours, but rather a garlanding of 
mile-stones on the way to our Father's mansion. 

In New York, they observe this festival after the 
old Dutch fashion ; and the Dutch, you know, were 
famous lovers of good eating. No lady, that is a 
lady, will be out in the streets on the first of Janu- 
ary. Every woman, that is ' anybody,' stays at 
home, dressed in her best, and by her side is a table 
covered with cakes, preserves, wines, oysters, hot 
coffee, &<c. ; and as every gentleman is in honor 
bound to call on every lady, whose acquaintance 
he does not intend to cut, the amount of eat- 
ing and drinking done by some fashionable beaux 
must of course be very considerable. The number 
of calls is a matter of pride and boasting among 
ladies, and there is, of course, considerable rivalry 
in the magnificence and variety of the eating tables. 
This custom is eminently Dutch in its character, and 
will pass away before a higher civilization. 

To furnish forth this treat, the shops vied with 
each other to the utmost. Confectionary abounded 
in the shape of every living thing ; beside many 
things nowhere to be found, not even among gnomes, 
or fairies, or uncouth merrows of the sea. Cakes 
were of every conceivable shape — pyramids, obe- 



88 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

lisks, towers, pagodas, castles, &c. Some frosted 
loaves nestled lovingly in a pretty basket of sugar 
eggs; others were garlanded with flowers, or sur- 
mounted by cooing doves, or dancing cupids. Alto- 
gether, they made a pretty show in Broadway — too 
pretty — since the object was to minister to heartless 
vanity, or tempt a sated appetite. 

But I will not moralize. Let us all have virtue, 
and then there will be no further need to talk of it, 
as the German wisely said. 

There is one lovely feature in this annual festival. 
It is a season when all past neglect, all family feuds, 
all heart-burning and estrangement among friends 
may be forgotten and laid aside for ever. They who 
have not spoken for years may renew acquaintance, 
without any unpleasant questions asked, if they sig- 
nify a wish to do so by calling on the first of Janu- 
ary. Wishing all may copy this warm bit of colour- 
ing in our social picture, I bid you farewell, with my 
heart's best blessing, and this one scrap of morals : 
May you treat every human being as you would treat 
him, and speak of every one as you would speak, if 
sure that death would part you before next New- 
Year's Day. 



LETTER XIII. 

January 20, 1842. 

Is your memory a daguerreotype machine, taking 
instantaneous likenesses of whatsoever the light of 
imagination happens to rest upon 7 I wish mine were 
not ; especially in a city like this — unless it would be 
more select in its choice, and engrave only the beau- 
tiful. Though I should greatly prefer the green fields, 
with cows, chewing the cud, under shady trees, by 
the side of deep, quiet pools — still I would find no 
fault, to have my gallery partly filled with the pal- " 
aces of our 'merchant princes,' built of the spark- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 89 

ling Sing Sing marble, which glitters in the sunlight, 
like fairy domes ; but the aforesaid daguerreotype 
will likewise engrave an ugly, angular building, which 
stands at the corner of Division-street, protruding its 
sharp corners into the midst of things, determined 
that all the world shall see it, whether it will or not, 
and covered with signs from cellar to garret, to bla- 
zen forth all it contains. 'Tis a caricature likeness 
of the nineteenth century ; and like the nineteenth 
century it plagues me ; I would I could get quit of it. 

I know certain minds, imbued with poetic philos- 
ophy, who earnestly seek all forms of outward beau- 
ty in this world, believing that their images become' 
deeply impressed on the soul that loves them, and 
thus constitute its scenery through eternity. If I had 
faith in this theory, that large and many-labelled 
thing of bricks and mortar, at the corner of Division- 
street, would almost drive me mad ; for though the 
spirit of beauty can witness that I love it not, its lines 
are branded into my mind with most disagreeable 
distinctness. I know not why it is so ; for assuredly 
this is not a sinner above many other structures, built 
by contract, and inhabited by trade. 

Luckily, no forms can re-appear in another world, 
which are not within the soul. The sublime land- 
scape there belongs to him who has spiritually retired 
apart into high places to pray ; not to the cultivated 
traveller with his minds portfolio filled with images 
of Alpine scenery, or of huge Plinlimmon veiled in 
clouds. The gardens there are not for nabobs, who 
exchange rupees for rare and fragrant roses ; but for 
humble, loving souls, who cherish those sweet char- 
ities of life, that lie, ' scattered at the feet of man like 
flowers.' Thanks be to Him who careth for all he 
hath made, the poor child running about naked in 
the miserable abodes at Five Points, though the whole 
of his mortal life should be of hardship and privation, 
may, by the grace of God, fashion for himself as 
8* 



90 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

beautiful an eternity, as Victoria's son; nay, per- 
chance his situation, bad as it is, involves even less 
danger of losing that beauty which alone remains, 
when the world, and all images thereof, pass away, 
like mist before the rising sun. The outward is but 
a seeming and a show ; the inward alone is perma- 
nent and real. 

That men have small faith in this, is witnessed by 
their doings. Parents shriek with terror to see a be- 
loved child on the steep roof of lofty buildings, lest 
his body should fall a mutilated heap upon the pave- 
ment ; but they can, without horror, send him to grow 
rich by trade, in such places as Havana or New Or- 
leans, where his soul is almost sure to fall, battered 
and crushed, till scarcely one feature of God's image 
remains to be recognised. If heaven were to them 
as real as earth, they could not thus make contracts 
with Satan, to buy the shadow for the substance. 

Alas, how few of us, even the wisest and the best, 
believe in Truth, and are willing to trust it alto- 
gether. — How we pass through life in simulation and 
false shows ! In our pitiful anxiety how we shall 
appear before men, we forget how we appear before 
angels. Yet is their ' public opinion' somewhat that 
concerns us most nearly. Passing by the theatre, I 
saw announced for performance a comedy, called the 
' Valley de Sham.' That simple sentence of mis- 
spelled French brought to my mind a whole rail-road 
train of busy thought. I smiled as I read it, and said 
within myself, Is not that comedy New York I Nay, 
is not the whole world a Valley of Sham ? Are not 
you, and I, and every other mortal, the ' valet' of 
some ' sham' or other I 

1 I scorn this hated scene 
Of masking and disguise, 
Where men on men still gleam 
With falseness in their eyes ; 
Where all is counterfeit, 
And truth hath never say : 



LETTERS FROM NEW, YORK. 91 

Where hearts themselves do cheat, 
Concealing hope's decay ; 
And writing at the stake, 
Themselves do liars make.' 

' Go search thy heart, poor fool, 
And mark its passions well ; 
'Twere time to go to school — 
'Twere time the truth to tell — 
'Twere time this world should cast 
Its infant slough away, 
And hearts burst forth at last 
Into the light of day : — 
'Twere time all learned to be 
Fit for Eternity.' 

My friend, hast thou ever thought how pleasant, 
and altogether lovely, would be a life of entire sin- 
cerity, married to perfect love ? The wildest stories 
of magic skill, or fairy power, con Id not equal the 
miracles that would be wrought by such a life ; for 
it would change this hollow masquerade of veiled 
and restless souls into a place of divine communion. 

Oh, let us no longer utter false, squeaking voices, 
through our stifling masks. If we have attained so 
far as to speak no lie, let us make the nobler effort to 
live none. Art thou troubled with vain fears con- 
cerning to-day's bread and to-morrow' s garment ? 
Let thy every word and act be perfect truth, uttered 
in genuine love ; and though thou mayest ply thy 
spiritual trades all unconscious of their results, yet 
be assured that thus, and thus only, canst thou 
weave royal robes of eternal beauty, and fill ample 
storehouses, to remain long after Wall-street and 
State-street have crumbled into dust. 

Be true to thyself. Let not the forms of business, 
or the conventional arrangements of society, seduce 
thee into falsehood. Have no fear of the harshnesss 
of sincerity. Truth is harsh, only when divorced 
from Love. There is no refinement like holiness ; 
1 for which humility is the other name.' Politeness 



92 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

is but a parrot mockery of her heavenly tones, which 
the world lisps and stammers, to imitate, as best she 
can, the pure language known to us only in beauti- 
ful fragments. Not through the copy shall the fair 
original ever be restored. 

Above all, be true to thyself in religious utterance, 
or remain for ever silent. Speak only according to 
thy own genuine, inward experience ; and look well 
to it, that thou repeatest no phrase prescribed by 
creeds, or familiarly used by sects, unless that phrase 
really conveys some truth into thine own soul. There 
is far too much of this muttering of dead language. 
Indeed, the least syllable of it is too much, for him 
who has faith in the God of truth. Wouldst thou 
give up thy plain, expressive English, to mumble 
Greek phrases, without the dimmest perception of 
their meaning, because schools and colleges have 
taught that they mean thus and so ? Or wilt thou 
maintain a blind reverence for words, which really 
have no more life for thee than old garments stuffed 
with chaff ? Multitudes who make no ' profession 
of religion,' as the phrase is, are passively driven in 
the traces of a blind sectarism from which they lack 
either the energy or the courage to depart. When I 
see such startled by an honest inquiry what is really 
meant by established forms or current phrases, I 
am reminded of the old man in the play, who said, 
' I speak no Greek, though I love the sound o'nt ; it 
goes so thundering, as it conjured devils.' 

Not against any form, or phrase, do I enter a pro- 
test ; but only against its unmeaning use. If to thy 
soul it really embodies truth, to thee it should be 
most sacred. But spiritual dialects, learned and 
spoken by rote, are among the worst of mockeries. 
1 The man who claims to speak as books enable, as 
synods use, as fashion guides, or as interest com- 
mands, babbles. Let him hush.' 

Be true to thy friend. Never speak of his faults 
to another, to show thy own discrimination ; but 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 93 

open them all to him with candor and true gentle- 
ness. Forgive all his errors and his sins, he they 
ever so many ; but do not excuse the slightest de- 
viation from rectitude. Never forbear to dissent 
from a false opinion, or a wrong practice, from mis- 
taken motives of kindness ; nor seek thus to have 
thy own weaknesses sustained ; for these things 
cannot be done without injury to the soul. \ God 
forbid,' says Emerson, ' that when I look to friend- 
ship as a firm rock to sustain me in moral emergen- 
cies, I should find it nothing but a mush of conces- 
sion. Better be a nettle in the side of my friend, 
than to be merely his echo.' 

As thou wouldst be true to thy friend, be so like- 
wise to thy country. Love her, with all her faults ; 
but on the faults themselves pour out thy honest 
censure. Thus shalt thou truly serve her, and best 
rebuke the hirelings that would make her lose her 
freedom for the tickling of her ears. 

Lastly, be true to the world. Benevolence, like 
music, is a universal language. It cannot freely ut- 
ter itself in dialects, that belong to a nation, or a 
clan. In its large significance, the human race is to 
thee a brother and a friend. Posterity needs much 
at thy hands, and will receive much, whether thou 
art aware of it, or not. Thou mayest deem thyself 
without influence, and altogether unimportant. Be- 
lieve it not. Thy simplest act, thy most casual 
word, is cast into l the great seed-field of human 
thought, and will re-appear as poisonous weed, or 
herb-medicinal, after a thousand years.' 

Many live as if they were not ashamed to adopt 
practically the selfish creed, uttered in folly or in 
fun, ' Why should I do any thing for posterity ? 
Posterity has done nothing for me.' Ay ; but the 
Past has done much for thee, and has given the Fu- 
ture an order upon thee for the payment. If thou 
hast received counterfeit coin, melt out the dross, 
and return true metal. 



94 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



LETTER XIV. 

February 17, 1842. 

I was always eager for the spring-time, but never 
so much as now ! 

Patience yet a little longer ! and I shall find deli- 
cate bells of the trailing arbutus, fragrant as an in- 
fant's breath, hidden deep, under their coverlid of 
autumn leaves, like modest worth in this pretending 
world. My spirit is weary for rural rambles. It is 
sad walking in the city. The streets shut out the 
sky, even as commerce comes between the soul and 
heaven. The busy throng, passing and repassing, 
fetter freedom, while they offer no sympathy. The 
loneliness of the soul is deeper, and far more restless, 
than in the solitude of the mighty forest. Wherever 
are woods and fields I find a home ; each tinted leaf 
and shining pebble is to me a friend ; and wherever 
I spy a wild flower, I am ready to leap up, clap my 
hands, and exclaim, ' Cockatoo ! he know me very 
well !' as did the poor New Zealander, when he 
recognised a bird of his native clime, in the menage- 
ries of London. 

But amid these magnificent masses of sparkling 
marble, hewn in prison, I am alone. For eight 
weary months, I have met in the crowded streets but 
two faces I had ever seen before. Of some, I would 
I could say that I should never see them again ; but 
they haunt me in my sleep, and come between me 
and the morning. Beseeching looks, begging the 
comfort and the hope I have no power to give. Hun- 
gry eyes, that look as if they had pleaded long for 
sympathy, and at last gone mute in still despair. 
Through what woful, what frightful masks, does the 
human soul look forth, leering, peeping, and defy- 
ing, in this thoroughfare of nations. Yet in each 
and all lie the capacities of an archangel : as the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 95 

majestic oak lies enfolded in the acorn that we tread 
carelessly under foot, and which decays, perchance, 
for want of soil to root in. 

The other day, I went forth for exercise merely, 
without other hope of enjoyment than a farewell to 
the setting sun, on the now deserted Battery, and a 
fresh kiss from the breezes of the sea, ere they pass- 
ed through the polluted city, bearing healing on their 
wings. I had not gone far, when I met a little rag- 
ged urchin, about four years old, with a heap of 
newspapers, ' more big as he could carry,' under his 
little arm, and another clenched in his small, red 
list. The sweet voice of childhood was prematurely 
cracked into shrillness, by screaming street cries, at 
the top of his lungs ; and he looked blue, cold, and 
disconsolate. May the angels guard him ! How I 
wanted to warm him in my heart. I stood looking 
after him, as he went shivering along. Imagination 
followed him to the miserable cellar w T here he proba- 
bly slept on dirty straw ; I saw him flogged, after 
his day of cheerless toil, because he had failed to 
bring home pence enough for his parents' grog ; I 
saw wicked ones come muttering and beckoning be- 
tween his young soul and heaven ; they tempted 
him to steal, to avoid the dreaded beating. I saw 
him, years after, bewildered and frightened, in the 
police-office, surrounded by hard faces. Their law- 
jargon conveyed no meaning to his ear, awakened 
no slumbering moral sense, taught him no clear dis- 
tinction between right and wrong ; but from their 
cold, harsh tones, and heartless merriment, he drew 
the inference that they were enemies ; and, as such, 
he hated them. At that moment, one tone like a 
mother's voice might have wholly changed his earth- 
ly destiny ; one kind word of friendly counsel might 
have saved him — as if an angel, standing in the ge- 
nial sunlight, had thrown to him one end of a gar- 
land, and gently diminishing the distance between 
them, had drawn him safely out of the deep and 



96 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

tangled labyrinth, where false echoes and winding 
paths conspired to make him lose his way. 

But watchmen and constables were around him, 
and they have small fellowship with angels. The 
strong impulses that might have become overwhelm- 
ing love for his race, are perverted to the bitterest 
hatred. He tries the universal resort of weakness 
against force ; if they are too strong for him, he will 
be too cunning for them. Their cunning is roused 
to detect his cunning : and thus the gallows-game is 
played, with interludes of damnable merriment from 
police reports, whereat the heedless multitude laugh ; 
while angels weep over the slow murder of a hu- 
man soul. 

When, O when, will men learn that society makes 
and cherishes the very crimes it so fiercely punishes, 
and in punishing reproduces ? 

1 The key of knowledge first ye take away, 
And then, because ye've robbed him, ye enslave ; 
Ye shut out from him the sweet light of day, 
And then, because he's in the dark, ye pave 
The road, that leads him to his wished-for grave, 
With stones of stumbling : then, if he but tread 
Darkling and slow, ye call him ' fool ' and ' knave' — 
Doom him to toil, and yet deny him bread : 
Chains round his limbs ye throw, and curses on his head.' 

God grant the little shivering carrier-boy a bright- 
er destiny than I have foreseen for him. 

A little further on, I encountered two young boys 
fighting furiously for some coppers, that had been 
given them and had fallen on the pavement. They 
had matted black hair, large, lustrous eyes, and an 
olive complexion. They were evidently foreign 
children, from the sunny clime of Italy or Spain, and 
nature had made them subjects for an artist's 
dream. Near by on the cold stone steps, sat a rag- 
ged, emaciated woman, whom I conjectured, from 
the resemblance of her large, dark eyes, might be 
their mother ; but she looked on their fight with 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 97 

languid indifference, as if seeing, she saw it not. I 
spoke to her, and she shook her head in a mournful 
way, that told me she did not understand my lan- 
guage. Poor, forlorn wanderer ! would I could 
place thee and thy beautiful boys under shelter of 
sun-ripened vines, surrounded by the music of thy 
mother-land ! Pence I will give thee, though politi- 
cal economy reprove the deed. They can but ap- 
pease the hunger of the body ; they cannot soothe 
the hunger of thy heart ; that I obey the kindly im- 
pulse may make the world none the better — per- 
chance some iota the worse ; yet I must needs follow 
it — I cannot otherwise. 

I raised my eyes above the woman's weather-beat- 
on head, and saw, behind the window of clear, plate 
glass, large vases of gold and silver, curiously 
wrought. They spoke significantly of the sad con- 
trasts in this disordered world ; and excited in my 
mind whole volumes, not of political, but of angelic 
economy. ' Truly,' said I, ' if the Law of Love pre- 
vailed, vases of gold and silver might even more a- 
bound — but no homeless outcast would sit shivering 
beneath their glittering mockery. All would be 
richer, and no man the poorer. When will the 
world learn its best wisdom ? When will the migh- 
ty discord ccme into heavenly harmony ? I looked 
at the huge stone structures of commercial wealth, 
and they gave an answer that chilled my heart. 
Weary of city walks, I would have turned home- 
ward ; but nature, ever true and harmonious, beck- 
oned to me from the Battery, and the glowing twi- 
light gave me friendly welcome. It seemed as if the 
danciug Spring Hours had thrown their rosy man- 
tles on old silvery winter in the lavishness of youth- 
ful love. 

I opened my heart to the gladsome influence, and 
forgot that earth was not a mirror of the heavens. 
It was but for a moment ; for there under the leafless 
9 



98 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

trees, lay two ragged little boys, asleep in each 
other's arms. I remembered having read in the po- 
lice reports, the day before, that two little children, 
thus found, had been taken up as vagabonds. They 
told, with simple pathos, how both their mothers 
had been dead for months ; how they had formed 
an intimate friendship, had begged together, ate 
together, hungered together, and together slept un- 
covered beneath the steel-cold stars. 

The twilight seemed no longer warm ; and brush- 
ing away a tear, I walked hastily homeward. As I 
turned into the street where God has provided me 
with a friendly shelter, something lay across my 
path. It was a woman, apparently dead ; with gar- 
ments all draggled in New York gutters, blacker 
than waves of the infernal rivers. Those who gath- 
ered around, said she had fallen in intoxication, and 
was rendered senseless by the force of the blow. 
They carried her to the watch-house, and the doctor 
promised she should be well attended. But, alas, 
for watch-house charities to a breaking heart ! I 
could not bring myself to think otherwise than that 
hers was a breaking heart. Could she but give a 
full revelation of early emotions checked in their full 
and kindly flow, of affections repressed, of hopes 
blighted, and energies misemployed through igno- 
rance, the heart would kindle and melt, as it does 
when genius stirs its deepest recesses. 

It seemed as if the voice of human wo was destin- 
ed to follow me through the whole of that unblest 
day. Late in the night I heard the sound of voices 
in the street, and raising the window, saw a poor, 
staggering woman in the hands of a watchman. My 
ear caught the words, ' Thank you kindly, sir. I 
should like to go home.' The sad and humble ac- 
cents in which the simple phrase was uttered, the 
dreary image of the watch-house, which that poor 
wretch dreamed was her home, proved too much for 
my overloaded sympathies. I hid my face in the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 99 

pillow, and wept ; for ' my heart was almost break- 
ing with the misery of my kind.' 

I thought, then, that I would walk no more 
abroad, till the fields were green. But my mind 
and body grow alike impatient of being inclosed 
within Avails ; both ask for the free breeze, and the 
wide, blue dome that overarches and embraces all. 
Again I rambled forth under the February sun, as 
mild and genial as the breath of June. Heart, mind, 
and frame grew glad and strong, as we wandered 
on, past the old Stuyvesant church, which a few 
years agone was surrounded by fields and Dutch 
farm-houses, but now stands in the midst of peopled 
streets ; — and past the trim, new houses, with their 
green verandahs, in the airy suburbs. Following the 
railroad, which lay far beneath our feet, as we wound 
our way over the hills, we came to the burying- 
ground of the poor. Weeds and brambles grew a- 
long the sides, and the stubble of last year's grass 
waved over it, like dreary memories of the past ; 
but the sun smiled on it, like God's love on the des- 
olate soul. It was inexpressibly touching to see the 
frail memorials of affection, placed there by hearts 
crushed under the weight of poverty. In one place 
was a small rude cross of wood, with the initials 
J. S. cut with a penknife, and apparently filled with 
ink. In another a small hoop had been bent into the 
form of a heart, painted green, and nailed on a stick 
at the head of the grave. On one upright shingle 
was painted only ' Mutter ;' the German word for 
Mother. On another was scrawled, as if with char- 
coal, ' So ruhe tvohl, du unser liebes kind.'' (Rest 
well, our beloved child.) One recorded life's brief 
history thus : ' H. G. born in Bavaria ; died in New 
York.' Another short epitaph, in French, told that 
the sleeper came from the banks of the Seine. 

The predominance of foreign epitaphs affected me 
deeply. Who could now tell with what high hopes 
those departed ones had left the heart-homes of Ger- 



100 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

many, the sunny hills of Spain, the laughing skies 
of Italy, or the wild beauty of Switzerland? Would 
not the friends they had left in their childhood's 
home, weep scalding tears to find them in a pauper's 
grave, with their initials rudely carved on a fragile 
shingle ? Some had not even these frail memorials. 
It seemed there was none to care whether they lived 
or died. A wide, deep trench was open ; and there 
I could see piles of unpainted coffins heaped one up- 
on the other, left uncovered with earth, till the 
yawning cavity was filled with its hundred tenants. 

Returning homeward, we passed a Catholic bury- 
ing-ground. It belonged to the upper classes, and 
was filled with marble monuments, covered with 
long inscriptions. But none of them touched my 
heart like that rude shingle, with the simple word 
' Mutter' inscribed thereon. The gate was open, 
and hundreds of Irish, in their best Sunday clothes, 
were stepping reverently among the graves, and kis- 
sing the very sods. Tenderness for the dead is one 
of the loveliest features of their nation and their 
church. 

The evening was closing in, as we returned, 
thoughtful, but not gloomy. Bright lights shone 
through crimson, blue, and green, in the apotheca- 
ries' windows, and were reflected in prismatic beau- 
ty from the dirty pools in the street. It was like po- 
etic thoughts in the minds of the poor and ignorant ; 
like the memory of pure aspirations in the vicious ; 
like a rainbow of promise, that God's spirit never 
leaves even the most degraded soul. I smiled, as 
my spirit gratefully accepted this love-token from 
the outward ; and I thanked our heavenly Father 
for a world beyond this. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 101 

LETTER XV. 

March 17, 1842. 

It may seem strange to you that among the mass 
of beings in this great human hive, I should occupy 
an entire letter with one whose life was like a troub- 
led and fantastic dream ; apparently without use to 
himself or others. Yet he was one who has left a 
record on the public heart, and will not soon be for- 
gotten. For several years past the eccentricities of 
Macdoaald Clarke have been the city talk, and al- 
most every child in the street was familiar with his 
countenance. In latter years the record of inexpres- 
sible misery was written there ; but he is said to have 
had rather an unusual portion of beauty in his youth ; 
and even to the last, the heart looked out from his 
wild eyes with most friendly earnestness. I saw 
him but twice ; and now mourn sincerely that the 
pressure of many avocations prevented my seeking 
to see him oftener. So many forms of unhappiness 
crowd upon us in this world of perversion and disor- 
der, that it is impossible to answer all demands. But 
stranger as poor Clarke was, it now makes me sad that 
I did not turn out of my way to utter the simple word 
of kindness, which never failed to rejoice his suffer- 
ing and childlike soul. 

I was always deeply touched by the answer of the 
poor, heart-broken page in Hope Leslie : ' Yes, lady, 
I have lost my way !' How often do I meet with 
those who, on the crowded pathway of life, have 
lost their way. With poor Clarke it was so from 
the very outset. Something that was not quite in- 
sanity, but was nigh akin to it, marked his very 
boyhood. 

He was born in New London, Connecticut, and 
was school-mate with our eloquent friend, Charles 
C. Burleigh, who always speaks of him as the most 
kind-hearted of boys, but even then characterized bv 

9* 



k-Ac^Of*,** 






102 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

the oddest vagaries. His mother died at sea, when 
he was twelve years old ; being on a voyage for 
her health. He says — 

' One night, as the bleak October breeze 

Was sighing a dirge through the leafless trees, 

She was borne by rough men in the chilly dark, 

Down to the wharf-side, where a bark 

Waited for its precious freight. 

I watched the ship-lights long and late ; 

When I could see them no more for tears, 

I turned drooping away, 

And felt that mine were darkening years.' 
And darkened indeed they were. ' That delicate 
boy,' as he describes himself, ' an only son, having 
been petted to a pitiable unfitness for the sterner 
purposes of life, went forth alone, to struggle with 
the world's unfriendliness, and front its frowns. 

He was in Philadelphia at one period ; but all we 
ever heard of him there was, that lie habitually slept 
in the grave-yard, on Franklin's monument. In 
1819, he came to New York, where he wrote for 
newspapers, and struggled as he could with pover- 
ty ; assisted from time to time by benevolence which 
he never sought. A sad situation for one who, like 
him, had a nerve protruding at every pore. 

In New York, he became in love with a handsome 
young actress, of seventeen, by the name of Brun- 
dage. His poverty, and obvious incapacity to ob- 
tain a livelihood, made the match objectionable in 
the eyes of her mother ; and they eloped. The time 
chosen was as wild and inopportune as most of his 
movements. On the very night she was to play 
Ophelia, on her way to the Park theatre, she abscon- 
ded with her lover, and was married. Of course, 
the play could not go on ; the audience were disap- 
pointed, and the manager angry. The mother of 
the young lady, a strong, masculine woman, was so 
full of wrath, that she pulled her daughter out of 
bed at midnight, and dragged her home. The 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 103 

bridegroom tried to pacify the manager by the most 
polite explanations ; but received nothing but kicks 
in return, with orders never to show his face within 
the building again. The young couple were strong- 
ly attached to each other, and of course were not 
long kept separated. But Macdonald, who had come 
of a wealthy family, was too proud to have his wife 
appear on the stage again ; and the remarkable powers 
of his own mind were rendered useless by the jar that 
ran through them all ; of course poverty came upon 
him like an armed man. They suffered greatly, but 
still clung to each other with the most fervid affection. 
Sometimes they slept in the deserted market-house ; 
and when the weather would permit, under the 
shadow of the trees. One dreadful stormy night, 
they were utterly without shelter, and in the ex- 
tremity of their need, sought the residence of her 
mother. They knocked and knocked in vain ; at 
last the suffering young wife proposed climbing a 
shed, in order to enter the window of a chamber she 
used to occupy. To accomplish this purpose, Mac- 
donald placed boards across a rain-water hogshead, 
at the corner of the shed. He mounted first, and 
drew her up after him, when suddenly the boards 
broke, and both fell into the water. Their screams 
brought out the strong-handed and unforgiving mo- 
ther. She seized her offending daughter by the 
hair, and plunged her up and down in the water 
several times, before she would help her out. She 
finally took her into the house, and left Macdonald 
to escape as he could. They were not allowed to 
live together again, and the wife seemed compelled 
to return to the stage, as a means of obtaining bread. 
She was young and pretty, her affections were 
blighted, she was poor, and her profession abounded 
with temptations. It was a situation much to be 
pitied ; for it hardly admitted of other result than 
that which followed. They who had loved so fond- 
ly, were divorced to meet no more. Whenever Mac- 



104 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

donald alluded to this part of his strange history, as 
he often did to a very intimate friend, he always 
added, ' I never blamed her ; though it almost broke 
my heart. She was driven to it, and I always piti- 
ed her.' 

This lady is now an actress of considerable repu- 
tation in England ; by the name of Burrows, I 
think. 

From this period, the wildness of poor Clarke's 
nature increased ; until he came to be generally 
known by the name of the ' Mad Poet.' His strange 
productions bore about the same relation to poetry 
that grotesques, with monkey faces jabbering out of 
lily cups, and gnarled trees with knot-holes twisted 
into hags' grimaces, bear to graceful arabesques, 
with trailing vines and intertwisted blossoms. Yet 
was the undoubted presence of genius always visi- 
ble. Ever and anon a light from another world 
shone on his innocent soul, kindling the holiest aspi- 
rations, which could find for themselves no form in 
his bewildered intellect, and so fell from his pen in 
uncouth and jagged fragments, still sparkling with 
the beauty of the region whence they came. His 
metaphors were at times singularly fanciful. He 
thus describes the closing day : — 

1 Now twilight lets her curtain down, 
And pins it with a star.' 

And in another place he talks of memory that 
shall last 

' Whilst the ear of the earth hears the hymn of the ocean. 1 

M. B. Lamar, late President of Texas, once met 
this eccentric individual at the room of William 
Page, the distinguished artist. The interview led to 
the following very descriptive lines from Lamar : — 

Say have you seen Macdonald Clarke, 

The poet of the Moon ? 
He is a d eccentric lark, 

As famous as Zip Coon. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 105 

He talks of Love and dreams of Fame, 

And lauds his minstrel art ; 
He has a kind of zig-zag brain — 

But yet a straight-line heart. 

Sometimes his strains so sweetly float, 

His harp so sweetly sings, 
You'd almost think the tuneful hand 

Of Jubal touch'd the strings. 

But soon, anon, with failing art, 

The strain as rudely jars, 
As if a driver tuned the harp, 

In cadence with his cars. 

He was himself well aware that his mind was a 
broken instrument. He described himself as 

' A poet comfortably crazy — 
As pliant as a weeping-willow — 
Loves most everybody's girls ; an't lazy — 
Can write a hundred lines an hour, 
With a rackety, whackety railroad power.' 

From the phrase, ' loves almost everybody's girls,' 
it must not be inferred that he was profligate. On 
the contrary, he was innocent as a child. He talked 
of love continually ; but it was of a mystic union of 
souls, whispered to him by angels, heard imperfect- 
ly in the lonely, echoing chambers of his soul, and 
uttered in phrases learned on earth, all unfit for the 
holy sentiment. Like the philosopher of the East, 
he knew, by inward revelation, that his soul 

1 In parting from its warm abode, 
Had lost its partner on the road, 
And never joined their hands. 1 

His whole life was in fact a restless seeking for his 
other half. This idea continually broke from him 
in plaintive, wild, imploring tones. 

' I have met so much of scorn 
From those to whom my thoughts were kind, 
I've fancied there was never born 
On earth, for me, one kindred mind.' 



106 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Again he says : 

1 The soul that now is cursed and wild, 
In one fierce, wavering, ghastly flare, 
Would be calm and blest as a sleeping child, 
That dreams its mother's breast is there ; 
Calm as the deep midsummer's air — 
Calm as that brow so mild and fair — 
Calm as God's angels everywhere — 
For all is Heaven — if Mary's there.' 

This restless idea often centred itself upon some 
young lady, whom he followed for a long time, with 
troublesome but guileless enthusiasm. The objects 
of his pursuit were sometimes afraid of him ; but 
there was no occasion for this. As a New York ed- 
itor very happily said, ' He pursued the little Red 
Riding Hoods of his imagination to bless and not to 
devour.' 

Indeed, in all respects, his nature was most kind- 
ly ; insomuch that he suffered continual torture in 
this great Babel of misery and crime. He wanted 
to relieve all the world, and was frenzied that he 
could not. All that he had — money, watch, rings, 
were given to forlorn street wanderers, with a com- 
passionate, and even deferential gentleness, that 
sometimes brought tears to their eyes. Often, when 
he had nothing to give, he would snatch up a rag- 
ged, shivering child in the street, carry it to the door 
of some princely mansion, and demand to see the 
lady of the house. When she appeared, he would 
say, ' Madam, God has made you one of the trus- 
tees of his wealth. It is His, not yours. Take this 
poor child, wash it, feed it, clothe it, comfort it — in 
God's name.' 

Ladies stared at such abrupt address, and deemed 
the natural action of the heart sufficient proof of 
madness ; but the little ones were seldom sent away 
uncomforted. 

Clarke was simple and temperate in all his hab- 
its : and in his deepest poverty always kept up the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 107 

neat appearance of a gentleman ; if his coat was 
thread-bare, it was never soiled. His tendency to 
refinement was shown in the church he chose to 
worship in. It was Grace church, the plainest, but 
most highly respectable of the Episcopal churches in 
this city. He was a constant attendant, and took 
comfort in the devotional frame of mind excited by 
the music. He was confirmed at that church but a 
few weeks before his death ; and commemorated the 
event in lines, of which the following are an ex- 
tract : — 

1 Calmly circled round the altar, 

The children of the Cross are kneeling. 
Forward, brother — do not falter, 

Fast the tears of sin are stealing ; 
Washing memory bright and clean, 
Making futurity serene.' 

During the past winter, he raved more than usual. 
The editor of the Aurora says he met him at his 
simple repast of apples and milk, in a public house, 
on last Christmas evening. He was absolutely mad. 
' You think I am Macdonald Clarke,' said he, ' but 
I am not. The mad poet dashed out his brains, last 
Thursday night, at the foot of Emmet's monument. 
The storm that night was the tears Heaven wept 
over him. God animated the body again. I am not 
now Macdonald Clarke, but Afara, an archangel of 
the Almighty. 

' I went to Grace church to-day. Miss sat 

in the seat behind me, and I tossed this velvet bible, 
with its golden clasps, into her lap. What do you 
think she did 1 A moment she looked surprised, 
and then she tossed it back again. So they all treat 
me. All I want is some religious people, that love 
God and love one another, to treat me kindly. One 

sweet smile of Mary would make my mind all 

light and peace ; and I would write such poetry as 
the world never saw. 

1 Something ought to be done for me,' said he; 



108 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

' I can't take care of myself. I ought to be sent to the 
asylum ; or wouldn't it be better to die ? The moon 
shines through the willow trees on the graves in St. 
Paul's church-yard, and they look all covered with 
diamonds — don't you think they look like diamonds ? 
Then there is a lake in Greenwood Cemetery ; that 
would be a good cool place for me — I am net afraid 
to die. The stars of heaven look down on that 
lake, and it reflects their brightness.' 

The Mary to whom he alluded, was a wealthy 
young lady of this city : one of those whom his dis- 
tempered imagination fancied was his lost half. 
Some giddy young persons, with thoughtless cruel- 
ty, sought to excite him on this favourite idea, by 
every species of joke and trickery. They made him 
believe that the young lady was dying with love for 
him, but restrained by her father ; they sent him 
letters, purporting to be from her hand ; and finally 
led him to the house, on pretence of introducing him, 
and then left him on the door-step. The poor fellow 
returned to the Carlton House, in high frenzy. The 
next night but one, he was found in the streets, kneel- 
ing before a poor beggar, to whom he had just given 
all his money. The beggar, seeing his forlorn condi- 
tion, wished to return it, and said, ' Poor fellow, you 
need it more than I.' When the watchman encoun- 
tered them, Clarke was writing busily on his knee, 
the history of his companion, which he was beseech- 
ing him to tell. The cap w 7 as blown from his head, 
on which a pitiless storm was pelting. The watch- 
man could make nothing of his incoherent talk, and 
he was taken to the Egyptian Tcmbs ; a prison 
where vagabonds and criminals await their trial. 

In the morning he begged that the book-keeper of 
the Carlton House might be sent for ; saying that he 
was his only friend. This gentleman conveyed him 
to the Lunatic Asylum, on Black well's Island. Two 
of my friends, who visited him there, found him as 
comfortable as his situation allowed. He said he was 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 109 

treated with great kindness, but his earnest desire to 
get out rendered the interview very heart-trying. 
He expressed a wish to recover, that he might write 
hymns and spiritual songs all the rest of his life. 
In some quiet intervals, he complained of the jokes 
that had been practised on him, and said it was 
not kind ; but he was fearfully delirious most of 
the time — calling vociferously for ' Water ! Wa- 
ter !' and complaining that his brain was all on fire. 

He died a few days after, aged about 44. His 
friend of the Carlton House took upon himself the 
charge of his funeral ; and it is satisfactory to 
think that it was all ordered, just as the kind and 
simple-hearted being would have himself desired. 
The body was conveyed to Grace church, and the 
funeral service performed in the presence of a few 
who had loved him. Among these was Fitz-Greene 
Halleck, who it is said often befriended him in the 
course of his suffering life. Many children were 
present ; and one with tearful eyes, brought a 
beautiful little bunch of flowers, which a friend 
laid upon his bosom with reverent tenderness. He 
was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, under the shad- 
ow of a pine tree, next to the grave of a little child 
— a fitting resting place for the loving and child- 
like poet. 

He had often expressed a wish to be buried at 
Greenwood. Walking there with a friend of mine, 
they selected a spot for his grave ; and he seem- 
ed pleased as a boy, when told of the arrangements 
that should be made at his funeral. ' I hope the 
children will come,' said he, ' I want to be buried 
by the side of children. Four things I am sure there 
will be in heaven ; music, plenty of little children, 
flowers, and pure air.' 

They are now getting up a subscription for a 
marble monument. . It seems out of keeping with 
his character and destiny. It were better to plant 
10 



110 LETTERS' FROM NEW YORK. 

a rose-bush by his grave, and mark his name on a 
simple white cross, that the few who loved him might 
know where the gentle, sorrowing w^anderer sleeps. 



LETTER XVI. 

August 7, 1842. 

Were you ever near enough to a great fire to be in 
immediate danger 1 If you were not, you have missed 
one form of keen excitement, and awful beauty. Last 
week, we had here one of the most disastrous confla- 
grations that have occurred for a long time. It caught, 
as is supposed, by a spark from a furnace falling on 
the roof of a wheelwright's shop. A single bucket of 
water, thrown on immediately, would have extin- 
guished it ; but it was not instantly perceived, roofs 
were dry, and the wind was blowing a perfect March 
gale. Like slavery in our government, it was not 
put out in the day of small beginnings, and so went 
on increasing in its rage, making a great deal of hot 
and disagreeable work. 

It began at the corner of Chrystie-street, not far 
from our dwelling; and the blazing shingles that 
came flying through the air, like a storm in the infer- 
nal regions, soon kindled our roof. We thought to 
avert the danger by buckets of water, until the block 
opposite us was one sheet of fire, and the heat like 
that of the furnace which tried Shadrach, Meshach 
and Abednego. Then we began to pack our goods, 
and run with them in all haste to places of safety ; 
an effort more easily described than done — for the 
streets all round were filled with a dense mass of liv- 
ing beings, each eager in playing the engines, or sa- 
ving the lares of his own hearth-stone. 

Nothing surprised me so much as the rapidity of 
the work of destruction. At three o'clock in the af- 
ternoon, there stood before us a close neighbourhood 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. Ill 

of houses, inhabited by those whose faces were fa- 
miliar, though their names were mostly unknown ; 
at five the whole was a pile of smoking ruins. The 
humble tenement of Jane Plato, the colored woman, 
of whose neatly-kept garden and white-washed fen- 
ces I wrote you last summer, has passed away for- 
ever. The purple iris, and yellow daffodils, and va- 
riegated sweet-williams, were all trampled down un- 
der heaps of red-hot mortar. I feel a deeper sympa- 
thy for the destruction of Jane's little garden, than 
I do for those who have lost whole blocks of houses ; 
for I have known and loved flowers, like the voice 
of a friend — but with houses and lands I was never 
cumbered. In truth, I am ashamed to say how much 
I grieve for that little flowery oasis in a desert of 
bricks and stone. My beautiful trees, too — the Ail- 
anthus, whose graceful blossoms, changing their hue 
from month to month, blessed me the live-long sum- 
mer ; and the glossy young Catalpa, over which it 
threw its arms so lovingly and free — there they stand, 
scorched and blackened; and I know not whether 
nature, with her mighty healing power, can ever 
make them live again. 

The utilitarian and the moralist will rebuke this tri- 
fling record, and remind me that one hundred hou- 
ses were burned, and not less than two thousand per- 
sons deprived of shelter for the night. Pardon my 
childish lamentations. Most gladly would I give a 
home to all the destitute ; but I cannot love two thou- 
sand persons ; and I loved my trees. Insurance stocks 
are to me an abstraction; but stock gilliflowers a 
most pleasant reality. 

Will your kind heart be shocked that I seem to 
sympathize more with Jane Plato for the destruction 
of her little garden-patch, than I do with others for 
loss of houses and furniture ? 

Do not misunderstand me. It is simply my way 
of saying that money is not wealth. I know the uni- 
versal opinion of mankind is to the contrary ; but it 



112 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

is nevertheless a mistake. Our real losses are those 
in which the heart is concerned. An autograph let- 
ter from Napoleon Bonaparte might sell for fifty dol- 
lars ; but if I possessed such a rare document, would 
I save it from the fire, in preference to a letter from 
a beloved and deceased husband, filled with dear lit- 
tle household phrases ? Which would a mother value 
most, the price of the most elegant pair of Parisian 
slippers, or a little worn-out shoe, once filled with a 
precious infant foot, now walking with the angels? 
Jane Plato's garden might not be worth much in 
dollars and cents ; but it was to her the endeared 
companion of many a pleasant hour. After her daily 
toil, she might be seen, till twilight deepened into 
evening, digging round the roots, pruning branches, 
and training vines. I know by experience how very 
dear inanimate objects become under such circum- 
stances. I have dearly loved the house in which I 
lived, but I could not love the one I merely owned. 
The one in which the purse had interest might be ten 
times more valuable in the market ; but let me calcu- 
late as I would, I should mourn most for the one in 
which the heart had invested stock. The common 
wild-flower that I have brought to my garden, and 
nursed, and petted, till it has lost all home-sickness for 
its native woods, is really more valuable than the 
costly exotic, purchased in full bloom from the con- 
servatory. Men of princely fortunes never know 
what wealth of happiness there is in a garden. 

' The rich man in his garden walks, 

Beneath his garden trees ; 
Wrapped in a dream of other things, 

He seems to take his ease. 

One moment he beholds his flowers, 

The next they are forgot ; 
He eateth of his rarest fruits, 

As though he ate them not. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 113 

It is not with the poor man so ; 

He knows each inch of ground, 
And every single plant and flower, 

That grows within its bound. 

And though his garden-plot is small, 

Him doth it satisfy ; 
For there's no inch of all his ground, 

That does not fill his eye. 

It is not with the rich man thus ; 

For though his grounds are wide, 
He looks beyond, and yet beyond, 

With soul unsatisfied. 

Yes, in the poor man's garden grow 
Far more than herbs and flowers ; 

Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind, 
And joy for weary hours.' 

The reason of this difference is easily explained : 

1 The rich man has his gardeners — 

His gardeners young and old : 
He never takes a spade in hand, 

Nor worketh in the mould. 
It is not with the poor man so — 

Wealth, servants, he has none ; 
And all the work that's done for him, 

Must by himself be done.' 

I have said this much to prove that money is not 
wealth, and that God s gifts are equal ; though joint- 
stock companies and corporations do their worst to 
prevent it. 

And all the highest truths, as well as the genuine 
good, are universal. Doctrinal dogmas may be ham- 
mered out on theological anvils, and appropriated to 
spiritual corporations, called sects. But those high 
and holy truths, which make the soul at one with 
God and the neighbour, are by their very nature uni- 
versal — open to all who wish to -receive. Outward 
forms are always in harmonious correspondence with 
10* 



114 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

inward realities ; therefore the material types of high- 
est truths defy man's efforts to monopolize. Who 
can bottle up the sunlight, to sell at retail ? or issue 
dividends of the ocean and the breeze ? 

This great fire, like all calamities, public or private, 
has its bright side. A portion of New York, and 
that not a small one, is for once thoroughly cleaned ; 
a wide space is opened for our vision, and the free 
passage of the air. True, it looks desolate enough 
now ; like a battle-field, when waving banners and 
rushing steeds, and fife and trumpet all are gone ; 
and the dead alone remain. But the dreary sight 
ever brings up images of those hundred volcanoes 
spouting flame, and of the scene at midnight, so fear- 
ful in its beauty. Where houses so lately stood, and 
welcome feet passed over the threshold, and friendly 
voices cheered the fireside, there arose the lurid gleam 
of mouldering fires, with rolling masses of smoke, as 
if watched by giants from the nether world ; and be- 
tween them all lay the thick darkness. It was stri- 
kingly like Martin's pictures. The resemblance re- 
newed my old impression, that if the arts are culti- 
vated in the infernal regions, of such are their galler- 
ies formed ; not without a startling beauty, which 
impresses, while it disturbs the mind, because it em- 
bodies the idea of Power, and its discords bear har- 
monious relation to each other. 

If you wanted to see the real, unqualified beauty 
of fire, you should have stood with me, in the dark- 
ness of evening, to gaze at a burning house nearly 
opposite. Four long hours it sent forth flame in ev- 
ery variety. Now it poured forth from the windows, 
like a broad banner on the wind ; then it wound round 
the door-posts like a brilliant wreath ; and from the 
open roof there ever went up a fountain of sparks 
that fell like a shower of gems. I watched it for 
hours, and could not turn away from it. In my mind 
there insensibly grew up a respect for that house ; 
because it defied the power of the elements, so brave- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 115 

ly and so long. It must have been built of sound 
timber, well-jointed ; and as the houses round it had 
fallen, its conflagration was not hastened by exces- 
sive heat, as the others had been. It was one o'clock 
at night when the last tongue of flame flickered and 
died reluctantly. The next day, men came by order 
of the city authorities, to pull down the walls. This, 
too, the brave building resisted to the utmost. Ropes 
were fastened to it with grappling irons, and a hun- 
dred men tugged, and tugged at it, in vain. My re- 
spect for it increased, till it seemed to me like an he- 
roic friend. I could not bear that it should fall. It 
seemed to me, if it did, I should no longer feel sure 
that John Q/uincy Adams and Joshua R. Giddings 
would stand on their feet against Southern aggres- 
sion. I sent up a joyful shout when the irons came 
out, bringing away only a few bricks, and the men 
fell backward from the force of the shock. But at 
last the walls reeled, and came down with a thunder- 
ing crash. Nevertheless, I will trust Adams and 
Giddings, tug at them as they may. 

By the blessing of heaven on the energy and pres- 
'ence of mind of those who came to our help, our 
walls stand unscathed, and nothing was destroyed in 
the tumult ; but our hearts are aching ; for all round 
us comes a voice of wailing from the houseless and 
the impoverished. 



LETTER XVII. 

April 14, 1842. 

In looking over some of my letters, my spirit 
stands reproved for its sadness. In this working-day 
world, where the bravest have need of all their 
buoyancy and strength, it is sinful to add our sor- 
rows to the common load. Blessed are the mission- 
aries of cheerfulness ! 



116 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

1 'Tis glorious to have one's own proud will, 
And see the crown acknowledged, that we earn j 
But nobler yet, and nearer to the skies, 
To feel one's self, in hours serene and still, 
One of the spirits chosen by Heaven to turn 
The sunny side of things to human eyes.' 

The fault was in my own spirit rather than 
in the streets of New York. ' Who has no inward 
beauty, none perceives, though all around is beauti- 
ful.' Had my soul been at once with Nature and 
with God, I should not have seen only misery and 
vice in my city rambles. To-day, 1 have been so 
happy in Broadway ! A multitude of doves went 
careering before me. Now wheeling in graceful cir- 
cles, their white wings and breasts glittering in the 
sunshine ; now descending within the shadow of the 
houses, like a cloud ; now soaring high up in the 
sky, till they seemed immense flocks of dusky but- 
terflies ; and ever as I walked they went before me, 
with most loving companionship. If they had any- 
thing to say to me, 1 surely understood their lan- 
guage, though I heard it not ; for through my whole 
frame there went a feathery buoyancy, a joyous up- 
rising from the earth, as if I too had wings, with 
conscious power to use them. Then they brought 
such sweet images to my mind ! 1 remembered the 
story of the pirate hardened in blood and crime, who 
listened to the notes of a turtle-dove in the stillness 
of evening. Perhaps he had never before heard the 
soothing tones of love. They spoke to his inmost 
soul, like the voice of an angel ; and wakened such 
response there, that he thenceforth became a holy 
man. Then I thought how I would like to have 
this the mission of rny spirit ; to speak to hardened 
and suffering hearts, in the tones of a turtle-dove. 

My flying companions brought before me another 
picture which has a place in the halls of memory for 
several years. I was once visiting a friend in prison 
for debt ; and through the grated window, I could see 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 117 

the outside of the criminals' apartments. On the 
stone ledges, beneath their windows, alighted three 
or four doves ; and hard hands were thrust out be- 
tween the iron bars, to sprinkle crumbs for them. 
The sight brought tears to my eyes. Hearts that 
still loved to feed doves must certainly contain some- 
what that might be reached by the voice of kind- 
ness. I had not then reasoned on the subject ; but 
I felt, even then, that prisons were not such spiritu- 
al hospitals as ought to be provided for erring broth- 
ers. The birds themselves were not of snowy plu- 
mage ; their little, rose-coloured feet were spattered 
with mud, and their feathers were soiled, as if they, 
too, were jail birds. The outward influences of a 
city had passed over them, as the inward had over 
those who fed them ; nevertheless, they are doves, 
said I, and have all a dove's instincts. It was a sig- 
nificant lesson, and I laid it to my heart. 

But these Broadway doves, ever wheeling before 
me in graceful eddies, why did their aerial frolic pro- 
duce such joyous elasticity in my physical frame ? 
Was it sympathy with nature, so intimate that her 
motions became my own 1 Or was it a revealing 
that the spiritual body had wings, wherewith I 
should hereafter fly 1 

The pleasant, buoyant sensation recalled to my 
mind a dream which I read many years ago, in Dod- 
dridge's Life and Correspondence. I will not vouch 
for it, that my copy is a likeness of the original. If 
anything is added, I know not where I obtained it, 
unless Doddridge himself has since told me. I sure- 
ly have no intention to add any thing of my own. 
I do not profess to give anything like the language ; 
for the words have passed from my memory utterly. 
As I remember the dream, it was thus : 

Dr. Doddridge had been spending the evening with 
his friend, Dr. Watts. Their conversation had been 
concerning the future existence of the soul. Long 
and earnestly they pursued the theme ; and both 



118 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

came to the conclusion, (rather a remarkable one for 
theologians of that day to arrive at) that it could not 
be they were to sing through all eternity ; that each 
soul must necessarily be an individual, and have its 
appropriate employment for thought and affection. 
As Doddridge walked home, his mind brooded over 
these ideas, and took little cognizance of outward 
matters. In this state he laid his head upon the pil- 
low and fell asleep. He dreamed that he was dy- 
ing ; he saw his weeping friends round his bedside, 
and wanted to speak to them, but could not. Pres- 
ently there came a nightmare sensation. His soul 
was about to leave the body ; but how would it get 
out ? More and more anxiously rose the query, how 
could it get out ? This uneasy state passed away ; 
and he found that the soul had left his body. He 
himself stood beside the bed, looking at his own 
corpse, as if it were an old garment, laid aside as 
useless. His friends wept round the mortal cover- 
ing, but could not see him. 

While he was reflecting upon this, he passed out 
of the room, he knew not how ; but presently he 
found himself floating over London, as if pillowed 
on a cloud borne by gentle breezes. Far below him, 
the busy multitude were hurrying hither and thith- 
er, like rats scampering for crumbs. ' Ah/ thought 
the emancipated spirit, ' how worse than foolish ap- 
pears this feverish scramble. For what do they 
toil ? and what do they obtain ? ' 

London passed away beneath him, and he found 
himself floating over green fields and blooming gar- 
dens. How is it that I am borne through the air ? 
thought he. He looked, and saw a large purple 
wing ; and then he knew that he was carried by an 
angel. ' Whither are we going V said he. ' To 
Heaven,' was the reply. He asked no more ques- 
tions ; but remained in delicious quietude, as if they 
floated on a strain of music. At length they paus- 
ed before a white marble temple, of exquisite beau- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 119 

ty. The angel lowered his flight, and placed him 
on the steps. l I thought you were taking me to 
Heaven,' said the spirit. ' This is Heaven,' replied 
the angel. ' This ! Assuredly this temple is of rare 
beauty ; but I could imagine just such built on earth.' 
1 Nevertheless, it is Heaven,' replied the angel. 

They entered a room just within the temple. A 
table stood in the centre, on which was a golden 
vase, filled with sparkling wine. ' Drink of this,' 
said the angel, offering the vase ; ' for all who would 
know spiritual things, must first drink of spiritual 
wine.' Scarcely had the ruby liquid wet his lips, 
when the Saviour of men stood before him, smiling 
most benignly. The spirit instantly dropped on his 
knees, and bowed down his head before Him. The 
holy hands of the Purest were folded over him in 
blessing ; and his voice said, ' You will see me sel- 
dom now ; hereafter you will see me more frequently. 
In the meantime, observe well the wonders of this 
temple ! ' 

The sounds ceased. The spirit remained awhile 
in stillness. When he raised his head, the Saviour 
no longer appeared. He turned to ask the angel 
what this could mean : but the angel had departed 
also. The soul stood alone, in its own unveiled pres- 
ence ! l Why did the Holy One tell me to observe 
well the w r onders of this temple?' thought he. He 
looked slowly round. A sudden start of joy and won- 
der ! There, painted on the walls, in most marvellous 
beauty, stood recorded the whole of his spiritual life ! 
Every doubt, and every clear perception, every con- 
flict and every victory, were there before him ! and 
though forgotten for years, he knew them at a glance. 
Even thus had a sunbeam pierced the darkest cloud, 
and thrown a rainbow bridge from the finite to the 
infinite ; thus had he slept peacefully in green valleys, 
by the side of running brooks ; and such had been 
his visions from the mountain tops. He knew them 
all. They had been always painted within the cham- 



120 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

bers of his soul ; but now, for the first time, was the 
veil removed. 

To those who think on spiritual things, this re- 
markable dream is too deeply and beautifully signif- 
icant ever to be forgotten. 

' We shape ourselves the joy or fear 
Of which the coming life is made, 

And fill our Future's atmosphere 
With sunshine or with shade. 

Still shall the soul around it call 
The shadows which it gathered here, 

And painted on the eternal wall 
The Past shall reappear.' 

I do not mean that the paintings, and statues, and 
houses, which a man has made on earth, will form 
his environment in the world of souls ; this would 
monopolize Heaven for the wealthy and the cultiva- 
ted. I mean, that the spiritual combats and victories 
of our pilgrimage write themselves there above, in 
infinite variations of form, colour, and tone ; and 
thus shall every word and thought be brought unto 
judgment. Of these things inscribed in Heaven, who 
can tell what may be the action upon souls newly 
born into time? Perhaps all lovely forms of Art are 
mere ultimates of spiritual victories in individual 
souls. It may be that all genius derives its life from 
some holiness, which preceded it, in the attainment 
of another spirit. Who shall venture to assert that 
Beethoven eonld have procured his strangely power- 
ful music, had not souls gone before him on earth, 
who, with infinite struggling against temptation, as- 
pired toward the Highest, and in some degree real- 
ized their aspiration l The music thus brought from 
the eternal world kindles still higher spiritual aspira- 
tions in mortals, to be realized in this life, and again 
written above, to inspire anew some gifted spirit, who 
stands a ready recipient in the far-off time. Upon 
this ladder, how beautifully the angels are seen as- 
cending and descending ! 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 121 

LETTER XVIII. 

May 26, 1842. 

The Battery is growing charming again, now that 
Nature has laid aside her pearls, and put on her em- 
eralds. The worst of it is, crowds are flocking there 
morning and evening ; yet I am ashamed of that 
anti-social sentiment. It does my heart good to see 
the throng of children trundling their hoops and rol- 
ling on the grass ; some, with tattered garments and 
dirty hands, come up from narrow lanes and stifled 
courts, and others with pale faces and weak limbs, 
the sickly occupants of heated drawing-rooms. But 
while I rejoice for their sakes, I cannot overcome my 
aversion to a multitude. It is so pleasant to run and 
jump, and throw pebbles, and make up faces at a 
friend, without having a platoon of well-dressed 
people turn round and stare, and ask, ' Who is that 
strange woman, that acts so like a child 1 ' Those 
who are truly enamoured of Nature, love to be alone 
with her. It is with them as with other lovers ; the 
intrusion of strangers puts to flight a thousand sweet 
fancies, as fairies are said to scamper at the approach 
of a mortal footstep. 

I rarely see the Battery, without thinking how 
beautiful it must have been before the white man 
looked upon it; when the tall, solemn forest came 
down to the water's edge, and bathed in the moon- 
light stillness. The solitary Indian came out from 
the dense shadows, and stood in the glorious bright- 
ness. As he leaned thoughtfully on his bow, his crest 
of eagles' feathers waved slowly in the gentle evening 
breeze; and voices from the world of spirits spoke 
into his heart, and stirred it with a troubled rever- 
ence, which he felt, but could not comprehend. To 
us, likewise, they are ever speaking through many- 
voiced Nature ; the soul, in its quiet hour, listens in- 
11 



122 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

tently to the friendly entreaty, and strives to guess 
its meaning. All round us, on hill and dale, the sur- 
ging ocean and the evening cloud, they have spread 
open the illuminated copy of their scriptures — re- 
vealing all things, if we could but learn the language ! 

The Indian did not think this ; but he felt it, even 
as I do. What have we gained by civilization ! It 
is a circling question, the beginning and end of which 
everywhere touch each other. One thing is certain ; 
they who pass through the ordeal of high civiliza- 
tion, with garments unspotted by the crowd, will 
make far higher and holier angels ; will love more, 
and know more, than they who went to their Father's 
house through the lonely forest-path. But looking 
at it only in relation to this earth, there is much to 
be said in favor of that wild life of savage freedom, 
as well as much against it. It would be so pleasant 
to get rid of that nightmare of civilized life — ' What 
will Mrs. Smith say?' and 'Do you suppose folks 
will think strange ? ' It is true that phantom troubles 
me but little ; having snapped my fingers in its face 
years ago, it mainly vexes me by keeping me for ever 
from a full insight into the souls of others. 

Should I have learned more of the spirit's life, could, 
I have wandered at midnight with Pocahontas, on 
this fair island of Manhattan? I should have, at 
least, learned all ; the soul of Nature's child might 
have lisped, and stammered in broken sentences, but 
it would not have muttered through a mask. 

The very name of this island brings me back to 
civilization, by a most unpleasant path. It was in 
the autumn of 1609 that the celebrated Hudson first 
entered the magnificent river that now bears his name, 
in his adventurous yacht, The Half Moon. The sim- 
ple Indians were attracted by the red garments and 
bright buttons of the strangers ; and as usual, their 
new friendship was soon sealed with the accursed 
' fire-water.' On the island where the city now stands, 
they had a great carouse ; and the Indians, in com- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 123 

memoration thereof, named it Manahachtanienks, 
abbreviated, by rapid speech, to Manhattan. The 
meaning of it is, ' The place where all got drunk 
together.'' As I walk through the crowded streets, 
I am sometimes inclined to think the name is by no 
means misapplied at the present day. 

New York is beautiful now, with its broad rivers 
glancing in the sunbeams, its numerous islands, like 
fairy homes, and verdant headlands jutting out in 
graceful curves into its spacious harbour, where float 
the vessels of a hundred nations. But oh, how beau- 
tiful it must have been, when the thick forest hung 
all round Hudson's lonely bark ! When the wild 
deer bounded through paths where swine now grunt 
and grovel ! That chapter of the world's history 
was. left unrecorded here below ; but historians above 
have it on their tablets ; for it wrote itself there in 
daguerreotype. 

Of times far less ancient, the vestiges are passing 
away ; recalled sometimes by names bringing the most 
contradictory associations. Maiden-lane is now one 
of the busiest of commercial streets ; the sky shut out 
with bricks and mortar ; gutters on either side, black 
as the ancients imagined the rivers of hell ; thronged 
with sailors and draymen ; and redolent of all wharf- 
like smells. Its name, significant of innocence and 
youthful beauty, was given in the olden time, when 
a clear, sparkling rivulet here flowed from an abun- 
dant spring, and the young Dutch girls went and 
came with baskets on their heads, to wash and bleach 
linen in the flowing stream, and on the verdant grass. 
Greenwich-street, which now rears its huge mas- 
ses of brick, and shows only a long vista of dirt and 
paving-stones, was once a beautiful beach, where 
boys and horses went in to bathe. In the middle of 
what is now the street, was a large rock, on which 
was built a rude summer-house, from which the mer- 
ry bathers loved to jump, with splash and ringing 
snouts of laughter. 



124 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

I know not from what Pearl-street derives its name ; 
but, in more senses than one, it is now obviously a 
'pearl cast before swine.' 

The Bowery, with name so flowery, where the dis- 
cord of a thousand wheels is overtopped by shrill 
street-cries, was a line of orchards and mowing-land, 
in rear of the olden city ; called in Dutch, the Bou- 
werys, or Farms : and in popular phrase, ' The High 
Road to Boston.' In 1631, old Governor Stuyvesant 
bought the ' Bouwerys,' (now so immensely valua- 
ble, in the market sense), for 6,400 guilders, or £1,066; 
houses, barn, six cows, two horses, and two young 
negro slaves, were included with the land. He built 
a Reformed Dutch church at his own expense, on his 
farm, within the walls of which was the family vault. 
The church of St. Mark now occupies the same site, 
and on the outside wall stands his original grave 
stone, thus inscribed : 

' In this vault lies buried Petrus Stuyvesant, late 
Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of Am- 
sterdam in New Netherland, now called New York, 
and the Dutch West India Islands. Died August, 
A. D. 1682, aged 80 years.' 

A pear tree stands without the wall, still vigorous, 
though brought from Holland and planted there by 
the governor himself. His family, still among the 
wealthiest of our city aristocracy, have preserved 
some curious memorials of their venerable Dutch an- 
cestor. A portrait in armour, well executed in Hol- 
land, probably while he was admiral there, represents 
him as a dark complexioned man, with strong, bold 
features, and mustaches on the upper lip. They like- 
wise preserve the shirt in which he was christened ; 
of the finest Holland linen, edged with narrow lace. 

Near the Battery is an inclosure, called the Bow- 
ling Green, where once stood a leaden statue of George 
II. ; an appropriate metal for the heavy house of Han- 
over. During the revolution, the poor king was pulled 
down and dragged irreverently through the streets, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 125 

to be melted into bullets for the war. He would 
have deemed this worse than being 

1 Turned to clay, 
To stop a hole to keep the wind away.' 

However, the purpose to which his image was ap- 
plied, would probably have been less abhorrent to 
him, than it would be to the apostles to know the 
uses to which they are applied by modern Christians. 

The antiquities of New York ! In this new and 
ever-changing country, what ridiculous associations 
are aroused by that word ! For us, tradition has no 
desolate arches, no dim and cloistered aisles. People 
change their abodes so often, that, as Washington 
Irving wittily suggests, the very ghosts, if they are 
disposed to keep up an ancient custom, don't know 
where to call upon them. 

This newness, combined with all surrounding social 
influences, tends to make us an irreverential people. 
It was the frequent remark of Mr. Combe, that of all 
nations, whose heads he had ever had an opportunity 
to observe, the Americans had the organ of venera- 
tion the least developed. No wonder that it is so. 
Instead of moss-grown ruins, we have trim brick 
houses ; instead of cathedrals, with their ' dim, re- 
ligious light,' we have new meeting-houses, built on 
speculation, with four-and-twenty windows on each 
side, and at both ends, for the full enjoyment of cross- 
lights ; instead of the dark and echoing recesses of 
the cloister, we have ready-made coffins in the shop- 
windows ; instead of the rainbow halo of poetic phil- 
osophy, we have Franklin's maxims for ' Poor Rich- 
ard ; ' and in lieu of kings divinely ordained, or gov- 
ernments heaven-descended, we have administrations 
turned in and out of office at every whirl of the bal- 
lot-box. 

' This democratic experiment will prove a failure,' 
said an old-fashioned federalist ; ' before fifty years 
11* 



126 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

are ended, we shall be governed by a king in this 
country.' 'And where will you get the blood 7 ' in- 
quired an Irishman, with earnest simplicity; 'sure you 
will have to send over the water to get some of the 
blood.' Whereupon, irreverent listeners laughed out- 
right, and asked wherein a king's blood differed from 
that of an Irish ditch-digger. The poor fellow was 
puzzled. Could he have comprehended the question, 
I would have asked, ' And if we could import the 
kingly blood, how could we import the sentiment of 
loyalty?' 

The social world, as well as the world of matter, 
must have its centrifugal as well as centripetal force ; 
and we Americans must perform that office ; an hon- 
ourable and useful one it is, yet not the most beauti- 
ful, nor in all respects the most desirable. Reverence 
is the highest quality of man's nature; and that in- 
dividual, or nation, which has it slightly developed, 
is so far unfortunate. It is a strong spiritual instinct, 
and seeks to form channels for itself where none ex- 
ists ; thus Americans, in the dearth of other objects 
to worship, fall to worshipping themselves. 

Now don't laugh, if you can help it, at what I 
bring forth as antiquities. Just keep the Parthenon, 
the Alhambra, and the ruins of Melrose out of your 
head, if you please ; and pay due respect to my Amer- 
ican antiquities. At the corner of Bayard and Bow- 
ery, you will see a hotel, called the North American ; 
and on the top thereof you may spy a wooden image 
of a lad with ragged knees and elbows, whose mother 
doesn't know they're out. That image commemorates 
the history of a Yankee boy, by the name of David 
Reynolds. Some fifty years ago, he came here at the 
age of twelve or fourteen, without a copper in his 
pocket. I think he had run away ; at all events, he 
was alone and friendless. % Weary and hungry, he 
leaned against a tree, where the hotel now stands ; 
every eye looked strange upon him, and he felt ut- 
terly forlorn and disheartened. While he was trying 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 127 

to devise some honest means to obtain food, a gentle- 
man inquired for a boy to carry his trunk to the 
wharf; and the Yankee eagerly offered his services. 
For this job he received twenty-live cents ; most of 
which he spent in purchasing fruit to sell again. He 
stationed himself by the friendly tree, where he had 
first obtained employment, and soon disposed of his 
little stock to advantage. With increased capital he 
increased his stock. He must have managed his 
business with Yankee shrewdness, or perhaps he was 
a cross of Scotch and Yankee ; for he soon estab- 
lished a respectable fruit stall under the tree ; and 
then he bought a small shop, that stood within its 
shade ; and then he purchased a lot of land, inclu- 
ding several buildings round ; and finally he pulled 
down the old shop, and the old houses, and built the 
large hotel which now stands there. The old tree 
seemed to him like home. There he had met with 
his first good luck in a strange city ; and from day 
to day, and month to month, those friendly boughs 
had still looked down upon his rising fortune. He 
would not desert that which had stood by him in the 
dreary days of poverty and trial. It must be re- 
moved, to make room for the big mansion ; but it 
should not be destroyed. From its beloved trunk he 
caused his image to be carved, as a memento of his 
own forlorn beginnings, and his grateful recollections. 
That it might tell a truthful tale, and remind him of 
early struggles, the rich citizen of New York caused 
it to be carved, with ragged trowsers, and jacket out 
at elbows. 

There is a curious relic of bygone days over the 
door of a public house in Hudson-street, between 
Hamersley-street and Greenwich Bank, of which few 
guess the origin. It is the sign of a fish, with a ring 
in its mouth. Tradition says, that in the year 1743, 
a young nobleman, disguised as a sailor, won the 
heart of a beautiful village maiden, on the western 
coast of England. It is the old story of woman's 



128 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

fondness, and woman's faith. She trusted him, and 
he deceived her. At their parting, they exchanged 
rings of betrothal. Time passed on, and she heard 
no more from him ; till at last there came the insult- 
ing offer of money, as a remuneration for her ruined 
happiness, and support for herself and child. Some 
time after, she learned, to her great surprise, that he 
was a nobleman of high rank, in the royal navy, and 
that his ship was lying near the coast. She sought 
his vessel, and conjured him by all recollections of 
her confiding love, and of his own earnest protesta- 
tions, to do her justice. At first, he was moved ; but 
her pertinacity vexed him, until he treated her with 
angry scorn, for presuming to think she could ever 
become his wife. l God forgive you,' said the weep- 
ing beauty ; l let us exchange our rings again ; give 
me back the one I gave you. It was my mother's; 
and I could not have parted with it to any but my 
betrothed husband. There is your money ; not a 
penny of it will I ever use ; it cannot restore my good 
name, or heal my broken heart. I will labour to sup- 
port your child.' In a sudden fit of anger, he threw 
the ring into the sea, saying, ' When you can recover 
that bauble from the fishes, you may expect to be the 
wife of a British nobleman. I give you my word of 
honour to marry you then, and not till then.' 

Sadly and wearily the maiden walked home with 
her poor old father. On their way, the old man bought 
a fish that was offered him, just taken from the sea. 
When the fish was prepared for supper that night, 
lo ! the ring was found in its stomach ! 

When informed of this fact, the young nobleman 
was so strongly impressed with the idea that it was 
a direct interposition of Providence, that he did not 
venture to break the promise he had given. He mar- 
ried the village belle, and they lived long and happily 
together. When he died, an obelisk was erected to 
his memory, surmounted by the effigy of a fish with 
a ring in its mouth. Such a story was of course 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 129 

sung and told by wandering beggars and travelling 
merchants, until it became universal tradition. Some 
old emigrant brought it over to this country; and 
there in Hudson-street hang the Fish and the Ring, 
to commemorate the loves of a past century, 

Now laugh if you will ; I think I have made out 
quite a respectable collection of American antiquities. 
If I seem to you at times to look back too lovingly 
on the Past, do not understand me as quarreling with 
the Present. Sometimes, it is true, I am tempted to 
say of the Nineteenth Century, as the exile from New 
Zealand did of the huge scramble in London streets, 
' Me no like London. Shove me about.' 

Often, too, I am disgusted to see men trying to pull 
down the false, not for love of the true, but for their 
own selfish purposes. But notwithstanding these 
drawbacks, I gratefully acknowledge my own age 
and country as pre-eminently marked by activity 
and progress. Brave spirits are everywhere at work 
for freedom, peace, temperance, and education. Ev- 
erywhere the walls of caste and sect are melting be- 
fore them ; everywhere dawns the golden twilight of 
universal love ! Many are working for all these 
things, who have the dimmest insight into the infinity 
of their relations, and the eternity of their results ; 
some, perchance, could they perceive the relation that 
each bears to all, would eagerly strive to undo what 
they are now doing ; but luckily, heart and hand 
often work for better things than the head wots of. 



130 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



LETTER XIX. 



June 2, 1842. 



You seem very curious to learn what I think of 
recent phenomena in animal magnetism, or mesmer- 
ism, which you have described to me. They have 
probably impressed your mind more than my own ; 
because I was ten years ago convinced that animal 
magnetism was destined to produce great changes in 
the science of medicine, and in the whole philosophy 
of spirit and matter. The reports of French physi- 
cians, guarded as they were on every side by the 
scepticism that characterizes their profession and 
their country, contained amply enough to convince 
me that animal magnetism was not a nine-days' 
wonder. That there has been a great deal of trick- 
ery, collusion, and imposture, in connection with this 
subject, is obvious enough. Its very nature renders 
it peculiarly liable to this ; whatsoever relates to 
spiritual existence cannot be explained by the laws 
of matter, and therefore becomes at once a powerful 
temptation to deception. For this reason, I have ta- 
ken too little interest in public exhibitions of animal 
magnetism ever to attend one ; I should always ob- 
serve them with distrust. 

But it appears to me that nothing can be more un- 
philosophic than the ridicule attached to a belief in 
mesmerism. Phenomena of the most extraordinary 
character have occurred, proved by a cloud of wit- 
nesses. If these things have really happened, (as 
thousands of intelligent and rational people testify,) 
they are governed by laws as fixed and certain as 
the laws that govern matter. We call them mira- 
cles, simply because we do not understand the caus- 
es that produce them ; and what do we fully under- 
stand 1 Our knowledge is exceedingly imperfect, 
even with regard to the laws of matter ; though the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 131 

world has had the experience of several thousand 
years to help its investigations. We cannot see that 
the majestic oak lies folded up in the acorn ; still less 
can we tell how it came there. We have observed 
that a piece of wood decays in the damp ground, 
while a nut generates and becomes a tree ; and we 
say it is because there is a principle of vitality in 
the nut, which is not in the wood ; but explain, if 
you can, what is a principle of vitality ? and how 
came it in the acorn ? 

They, who reject the supernatural, claim to be the 
only philosophers, in these days, when, as Peter 
Parley says, ' every little child knows all about the 
rainbow.' Satisfied with the tangible inclosures of 
their own penfold, these are not aware that whoso- 
ever did know all about the rainbow, would know 
enough to make a world. iSVpernatural simply 
means above the natural. Between the laws that 
govern the higher and the lower, there is doubtless 
the most perfect harmony ; and this we should per- 
ceive and understand, if we had the enlarged facul- 
ties of angels. 

There is something exceedingly arrogant and 
short-sighted in the pretensions of those who ridicule 
everything not capable of being proved to the sen- 
ses. They are like a man who holds a penny close 
to his eye, and then denies that there is a glorious 
firmament of stars, because he cannot see them. 
Carlyle gives the following sharp rebuke to this an- 
noying class of thinkers : — 

' Thou wilt have no mystery and mysticism? Wilt 
walk through the world by the sunshine of what 
thou callest logic ? Thou wilt explain all, account 
for all, or believe nothing of it l Nay, thou wilt 
even attempt laughter ? ' 

' Whoso recognises the unfathomable, all-perva- 
ding domain of mystery, which is everywhere under 
our feet and among our hands ; to whom the uni- 
verse is an oracle and a temple, as well as kitchen 



132 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

and cattle-stall — he shall be called a mystic, and de- 
lirious 1 To him thou, with sniffing charity, wilt 
protrusively proffer thy hand-lamp, and shriek, as 
one injured, when he kicks his foot through it ? 
Wert thou not born ? Wilt thou not die ? Explain 
me all this — or do one of two things : retire into pri- 
vate places with thy foolish cackle ; or, what were 
better, give it up ; and weep not that the reign of 
wonder is done, and God's world all disembellished 
and prosaic, but that thou thyself art hitherto a 
sand-blind pedant '? ' 

But if there be any truth in the wonders of animal 
magnetism, why has not the world heard of them 
before ? asks the inquirer. The world did hear of 
them, centuries ago ; and from time to time they 
have re-appeared, and arrested local and temporary 
attention ; but not being understood, and not being 
conveyed to the human mind through the medium 
of religious belief, they were soon rejected as fabu- 
lous stories, or idle superstitions ; no one thought of 
examining them as phenomena governed by laws 
which regulate the universe. 

It is recorded that when the plague raged in Ath- 
ens, in the days of Plato, many recovered from it 
with a total oblivion of all outward things ; they 
seemed to themselves to be living among other scenes, 
which were as real to them, as the material world 
was to others. The wisdom of angels, perchance, 
perceived it to be far more real. 

Ancient history records that a learned Persian 
Magus who resided among the mountains that over- 
looked Taoces, recovered from the plague with a per- 
petual oblivion of all outward forms, while he often 
had knowledge of the thoughts passing in the minds 
of those around him. If an unknown scroll were pla- 
ced before him, he would read it, though a brazen 
shield were interposed between him and the parch- 
ment ; and if figures were drawn on the water, he 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 133 

at once recognised the forms, of which no visible 
trace remained. 

In Taylor's Plato, mention is made of one Clear- 
chus, who related an experiment tried in the pres- 
ence of Aristotle and his disciples at the Lyceum. 
He declares that a man, by means of moving a wand 
up and down, over the body of a lad, ' led the soul 
out of it,' and left the form perfectly rigid and sense- 
less ; when he afterwards led the soul back, it told, 
with wonderful accuracy, all that had been said 
and done. 

This reminds me o£a singular circumstance which 
happened to a venerable friend of mine. I had it 
from her own lips. She was taken suddenly ill one 
day, and swooned. To all appearance, she was en- 
tirely lifeless ; insomuch that her friends feared she 
was really dead. A physician was sent for and a 
variety of experiments tried, before there were any 
symptoms of returning animation. She herself was 
merely aware of a dizzy and peculiar sensation, and 
then she found herself standing by her own lifeless 
body, watching all their efforts to resuscitate it. It 
seemed to her strange, and she was too confused to 
know whether she were in that body, or out of it. 
In the mean time, her anxious friends could not 
make the slightest impression on the rigid form, ei- 
ther by sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell ; it was 
to all appearance dead. The five outward gates of 
entrance to the soul were shut and barred. Yet 
when the body revived, she told everything that had 
been done in the room, every word that had been 
said, and the very expression of their countenances. 
The soul had stood by all the while, and observed 
what was done to the body. How did it see when 
the eyes were closed, like a corpse 1 Answer that, 
before you disbelieve a thing because you cannot un- 
derstand it. Could I comprehend how the simplest 
violet came into existence, I too would urge that 
12 



134 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

plea. It were as wise for a child of four years old 
to deny that the planets move round the sun, be- 
cause its infant mind cannot receive the explanation, 
as for you and me to ridicule arcana of the soul's 
connection with the body, because we cannot com- 
prehend them, in this imperfect state of existence. 
Beings so ignorant, should be more humble and rev- 
erential ; this frame of mind has no affinity what- 
ever with the greedy superstition that is eager to be- 
lieve everything merely, because it is wonderful. 

It is deemed incredible that people in magnetic 
sleep can describe objects at a distance, and scenes 
which they never looked upon while waking ; yet. 
nobody doubts the common form of somnambulism, 
called sleep walking. You may singe the eye-lashes 
of a sleep walker with a candle, and he will per- 
ceive neither you nor the light. His eyes have no 
expression ; they are like those of a corpse. Yet he 
will walk out in the dense , darkness ; avoiding 
chairs, tables, and all other obstructions ; he will 
tread the ridge-pole of a roof, far more securely than 
he could in a natural state, at mid-day ; he will har- 
ness horses, pack wood, make shoes, &c. all in 
the darkness of midnight. Can you tell me with 
what eyes he sees to do these things 7 and what 
light directs him 1 If you cannot, be humble enough 
to acknowledge that God governs the universe by 
many laws incomprehensible to you ; and be wise 
enough to conclude that these phenomena are not 
deviations from the divine order of things, but occa- 
sional manifestations of principles always at work in 
the great scale of being, made visible at times, by 
causes as yet unrevealed. 

Allowing very largely for falsehood, trickery, su- 
perstitious fear, and stimulated imagination, I still 
believe most fully that many things now rejected as 
foolish superstitions, will hereafter take their appro- 
priate place in a new science of spiritual philosophy. 
From the progress of animal magnetism, there may 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 135 

perhaps be evolved much that will throw light upon 
old stories of oracles, witchcraft, and second-sight. 
A large portion of these stories are doubtless false- 
hoods, fabricated for the most selfish and mischievous 
purposes ; others may be an honest record of things 
as they actually seemed to the narrator. Those 
which are true, assuredly have a cause ; and are 
miraculous only as our whole being is miraculous. 
Is not life itself the highest miracle ? Everybody 
can tell you what it does, but where is the wise man 
who can explain what it is ? When did the infant 
receive that mysterious gift ? Whence did it come ? 
Whither does it go, when it leaves the body ? 

Scottish legends abound with instances of second- 
sight, often times supported by a formidable array of 
evidence ; but I have met only one individual who 
was the subject of such a story. 

She is a woman of plain practical sense, very un- 
imaginative, intelligent, extremely well-informed, 
and as truthful as the sun. I tell the story as 
she told it to me. One of her relatives was seized 
with rapid consumption. He had for some weeks 
been perfectly resigned to die ; but one morning, 
when she called upon him, she found his eyes bril- 
liant, his cheeks flushed with an unnatural bloom, 
and his mind full of belief that he should recover 
health. He talked eagerly of voyages he would 
take, and of the renovating influence of warmer 
climes. She listened to him with sadness ; for she 
was well acquainted with his treacherous disease, 
and in all these things she saw symptoms of ap- 
proaching death. She said this to her mother and 
sisters, when she returned home. In the afternoon 
of the same day, as she sat sewing in the usual fam- 
ily circle, she accidentally looked up — and gave a 
sudden start, which immediately attracted atten- 
tion and inquiry. She replied, ' Don't you see 
cousin *— V 

They thought she had been dreaming ; ' but she 



136 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK, 

said, c I certainly am not asleep. It is strange you 
do not see him ; he is there.' The next thought was 
that she was seized with sudden insanity ; but she 
assured them that she was never more rational in 
her life : that she could not account for the circum- 
stance, any more than they could ; but her cousin 
certainly was there, and looking at her with a very 
pleasant countenance. Her mother tried to turn it 
off as a delusion ; but nevertheless, she was so much 
impressed by it, that she looked at her watch, and 
immediately sent to inquire how the invalid did. The 
messenger returned with news that he was dead, 
and had died at that moment. 

My friend told me that at first she saw only the 
bust ; but gradually the whole form became visible, 
as if some imperceptible cloud, or veil, had slowly 
rolled away ; the invisible veil again rose, till only 
the bust remained ; and then that vanished. 

She said the vision did not terrify her at the time ; 
it simply perplexed her, as a thing incomprehensible. 
Why she saw it, she could explain no better than 
why her mother and sisters did not see it. She sim- 
ply told it to me just as it appeared to her ; as distinct 
and real as any other individual in the room. 

Men would not be afraid to see spirits, if they were 
better acquainted with their own. It is because we 
live so entirely in the body, that we are startled at a 
revelation of the soul. 

Animal magnetism will come out from all the shams 
and quackery that have made it ridiculous, and will 
yet be acknowledged as an important aid to science, 
an additional proof of immortality, and a means, in 
the hands of Divine Providence, to arrest the pro- 
gress of materialism. 

For myself, I am deeply thankful for any agency, 
that even momentarily blows aside the thick veil be- 
tween the Finite and the Infinite, and gives me never 
so hurried and imperfect a glimpse of realities which 
lie beyond this valley of shadows. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 137 



LETTER XX. 

June 9, 1842. 

There is nothing which makes me feel the impris- 
onment of a city, like the absence of birds. Bles- 
sings on the little warblers ! Lovely types are they 
of all winged and graceful thoughts. Dr. Follen used 
to say, ' 1 feel dependent for a vigorous and hopeful 
spirit on now and then a kind word, the loud laugh of 
a child, or the silent greeting of a flower.' Fully do 
I sympathize with this utterance of his gentle, and 
loving spirit ; but more than the benediction of the 
flower, more perhaps than even the mirth of child- 
hood, is the clear, joyous note of the bird, a refresh- 
ment to my soul. 

1 The birds ! the birds of summer hours 

They bring a gush of glee, 
To the 'child among the fragrant flowers, 

To the sailor on the sea. 
We hear their thrilling voices 

In their swift and airy flight, 
And the inmost heart rejoices 

With a calm and pure delight. 
Amid the morning's fragrant dew, 

Amidst the mists of even, 
They warble on, as if they drew 

Their music down from Heaven. 
And when their holy anthems 

Come pealing through the air, 
Our hearts leap forth to meet them, 

With a blessing and a prayer.' 

But alas ! like the free voices of fresh youth, they 
come not on the city air. Thus should it be ; where 
mammon imprisons all thoughts and feelings that 
would fly upward, their winged types should be in 
12* 



138 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

cages too. Walk down Mulberry-street, and you 
may see, in one small room, hundreds of little feath- 
ered songsters, each hopping about restlessly in his 
gilded and garlanded cage, like a dyspeptic merchant 
in his marble mansion. I always turn my head away 
when I pass ; for the sight of the little captives goes 
through my heart like an arrow. The darling little 
creatures have such visible delight in freedom ; 

1 In the joyous song they sing; 

Tn the liquid air they cleave ; 
In the sunshine ; in the shower ; 

In the nests they weave.' 

I seldom see a bird encaged, without being reminded 
of Petion, a truly great man, the popular idol of 
Haiti, as Washington is of the United States. 

While Petion administered the government of the 
island, some distinguished foreigner sent his little 
daughter a beautiful bird, in a very handsome cage. 
The child was delighted, and with great exultation 
exhibited the present to her father. ' It is indeed 
very beautiful, my daughter,' said he ; ' but it makes 
my heart ache to look at it. I hope you will never 
show it to me again.' 

With great astonishment, she inquired his reasons. 
He replied, ' When this island was called St. Domin- 
go, we were all slaves. It makes me think of it to 
look at that bird; for he is a slave.' 

The little girl's eyes filled with tears, and her lips 
quivered, as she exclaimed, ' Why, father ! he has 
such a large, handsome cage ; and as much as ever 
he can eat and drink.' 

' And would you be a slave,' said he, ' if you could 
live in a great house, and be fed on frosted cake'?' 

After a moment's thought, the child began to say, 
half reluctantly, f Would he be happier, if I opened 
the door of his cage ? ' ' He would be free ! ' was 
the emphatic reply. Without another word, she took 
the cage to the open window, and a moment after, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 139 

she saw her prisoner playing with the humming- 
birds among the honey-suckles. 

One of the most remarkable cases of instinctive 
knowledge in birds was often related by my grandfa- 
ther, who witnessed the fact with his own eyes. He 
was attracted to the door, one summer day, by a 
troubled twittering, indicating distress and terror. A 
bird, who had built her nest in a tree near the door, 
was flying back and forth with the utmost speed, ut- 
tering wailing cries as she went. He was at first at 
a loss to account for her strange movements ; but 
they were soon explained by the sight of a snake 
slowly winding up the tree. 

Animal magnetism was then unheard of; and who- 
soever had dared to mention it, would doubtless have 
been hung on Witch's Hill, without benefit of clergy. 
Nevertheless, marvellous and altogether unaccount- 
able stories had been told of the snake's power to 
charm birds. The popular belief was that the serpent 
charmed the bird by looking steadily at it ; and that 
such a sympathy ivas thereby established, that if the 
snake were struck, the bird felt the blow, and writhed 
tinder it. 

These traditions excited my grandfather's curiosity 
to watch the progress of things ; but, being a humane 
man, he resolved to kill the snake before he had a 
chance to despoil the nest. The distressed mother 
meanwhile continued her rapid movements and troub- 
led eric's ; and he soon discovered that she went and 
came continually, with something in her bill, from 
one particular tree — a white ash. The snake wound 
his way up ; but the instant his head came near the 
nest, his folds relaxed, and he fell to the ground rigid, 
and apparently lifeless. My grandfather made sure 
of his death by cutting off his head, and then moun- 
ted the tree to examine into the mystery. The snug 
little nest was filled with eggs, and covered with 
leaves of the white ash ! 

That little bird knew, if my readers do not, that 



140 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

contact with the white ash is deadly to a snake. 
This is no idle superstition, but a veritable fact in 
natural history. The Indians are aware of it, and 
twist garlands of white ash leaves about their ankles, 
as a protection against rattlesnakes. Slaves often 
take the same precaution when they travel through 
swamps and forests, guided by the north star ; or to 
the cabin of some poor white man, who teaches them 
to read and write by the light of pine splinters, and 
receives his pay in ' massa's' corn or tobacco. 

I have never heard any explanation of the effect 
produced by the white ash ; but I know that settlers 
in the wilderness like to have these trees round their 
log houses, being convinced that no snake will vol- 
untarily come near them. When touched with the 
boughs, they are said to grow suddenly rigid, with 
strong convulsions ; after a while they slowly recov- 
er, but seem sickly for some time. 

The following well authenticated anecdote has 
something wonderfully human about it : 

A parrot had been caught young, and trained by 
a Spanish lady, who sold it to an English sea-captain. 
For a time the bird seemed sad among the fogs of 
England, where birds and men all spoke to her in a 
foreign tongue. By degrees, however, she learned 
the language, forgot her Spanish phrases, and seemed 
to feel at home. Years passed on, aud found Pretty 
Poll the pet of the captain's family. At last her bril- 
liant feathers began to turn grey with age ; she could 
take no food but soft pulp, and had not strength 
enough to mount her perch. But no one had the 
heart to kill the old favourite, she was entwined with 
so many pleasant household recollections. She had 
been some time in this feeble condition, when a Span- 
ish gentleman called one day to see her master. It 
was the first time she had heard the language for 
many years. It probably brought back to memory 
the scenes of her youth in that beautiful region of 
vines and sunshine. She spread forth her wings 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 141 

with a wild scream of joy, rapidly ran over the Span- • 
ish phrases, which she had not uttered for years, and 
fell down dead. 

There is something strangely like reason in this. 
It makes one want to know whence comes the bird's 
soul, and whither goes it. 

There are different theories on the subject of in- 
stinct. Some consider it a special revelation to each 
creature; others believe it is founded on traditions 
handed down among animals, from generation to gen- 
eration, and is therefore a matter of education. My 
own observation, two years ago, tends to confirm the 
latter theory. Two barn-swallows came into our 
wood-shed in the spring time. Their busy, earnest 
twitterings led me at once to suspect that they were 
looking out a building-spot; but as a carpenter's 
bench was under the window, and frequent hammer- 
ing, sawing, and planing were going on, I had little 
hope they would choose a location under our roof. 
To my surprise, however, they soon began to build 
in the crotch of a beam, over the open door-way. I 
was delighted, and spent more time in watching 
them, than ' penny-wise' people would have ap- 
proved. It was, in fact, a beautiful little drama of 
domestic love. The mother bird was so busy, and 
so important ; and her mate was so attentive ! Nev- 
er did any newly-married couple take more satisfac- 
tion with their first nicely-arranged drawer of baby- 
clothes, than these did in fashioning their little 
woven cradle. 

The father-bird scarcely ever left the side of the 
nest. There he was, all day long, twittering in 
tones that were most obviously the outpourings of 
love. Sometimes he would bring in a straw, or a 
hair, to be inwoven in the precious little fabric. One 
day my attention was arrested by a very unusual 
twittering, and I saw him circling round with a large 
downy feather in his bill. He bent over the unfinish- 
ed nest, and offered it to his mate with the most 



142 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

• graceful and loving air imaginable ; and when she 
put up her mouth to take it, he poured forth such a 
gush of gladsome sound ! It seemed as if pride and 
affection had swelled his heart, till it was almost too 
big for his little bosom. The whole transaction was 
the prettiest piece of fond coquetry, on both sides, 
that it was ever my good luck to witness. 

It was evident that the father-bird had formed 
correct opinions on ' the woman question ; ' for dur- 
ing the process of incubation he volunteered to per- 
form his share of household duty. Three or four 
times a day would he, with coaxing twitterings, per- 
suade his patient mate to fly abroad for food ; and 
the moment she left the eggs, he would take the ma- 
ternal station, and give a loud alarm whenever cat 
or dog came about the premises. He certainly per- 
formed the office with far less ease and grace than 
she did; it was something in the style of an old 
bachelor tending a babe ; but nevertheless it showed 
that his heart was kind, and his principles correct, 
concerning division of labour. When the young 
ones came forth, he pursued the same equalizing 
policy, and brought at lest half the food for his 
greedy little family. 

But when they became old enough to fly, the ver- 
iest misanthrope would have laughed to watch their 
manoeuvres ! Such chirping and twittering ! Such 
diving down from the nest, and flying up again ! 
Such wheeling round in circles, talking to the young 
ones all the while ! Such clinging to the sides of 
the shed with their sharp claws, to show the timid 
little fledgelings that there was no need of falling ! , 

For three days all this was carried on with in- 
creasing activity. It was obviously an infant flying 
school. But all their talking and fussing was of no 
avail. The little downy things looked down, and 
then looked up, and, alarmed at the infinity of space, 
sunk down into the nest again. At length the pa- 
rents grew impatient, and summoned their neigh- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 143 

bours. As I was picking up chips one day, I 'found 
my head encircled with a swarm of swallows. 
They flew up to the nest, and chatted away to the 
young ones ; they clung to the walls, looking back 
to tell how the thing was done ; they dived, and 
wheeled, and balanced, and floated, in a manner 
perfectly beautiful to behold. 

The pupils were evidently much excited. They 
jumped up on the edge of the nest, and twittered, 
and shook their feathers, and waved their wings ; 
and then hopped back again, saying, ' It's pretty 
sport, but we can't do it.' 

Three times the neighbours came in and repeated 
their graceful lessons. The third time, two of the 
young birds gave a sudden plunge downward, and 
then fluttered and hopped, till they alighted on a 
small upright log. And oh, such praises as were 
warbled by the whole troop ! The air was rilled 
with their joy ! Some were flying round, swift as 
a ray of light ; others were perched on the hoe- 
handle, and the teeth of the rake ; multitudes clung to 
the wall, after the fashion of their pretty kind ; and 
two were swinging, in most graceful style, on a pen- 
dant hoop. Never, while memory lasts, shall I for- 
get that swallow party ! I have frolicked with bles- 
sed Nature much and often ; but this, above all her 
gambols, spoke into my inmost heart, like the glad 
voices of little children. That beautiful family con- 
tinued to be our playmates, until the falling leaves 
gave token of approaching winter. For some time, 
the little ones came home regularly to their nest at 
night. I was ever on the watch to welcome them, 
and count that none were missing. A sculptor 
might have taken a lesson in his art, from those lit- 
tle creatures perched so gracefully on the edge of 
their clay-built cradle, fast asleep, with heads hidden 
under their folded wings. Their familiarity was 
wonderful. If I hung my gown on a nail, I found 
a little swallow perched on the sleeve. If I took a 



144 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

nap in the afternoon, my waking eyes were greeted 
by a swallow on the bed-post ; in the summer twi- 
light, they flew about the sitting room in search of 
flies, and sometimes lighted on chairs and tables. I 
almost thought they knew how much I loved them. 
But at last they flew away to more genial skies, with 
a whole troop of relations and neighbours. It was a 
deep pain to me, that I should never know them 
from other swallows, and that they would have no 
recollection of me. We had lived so friendly to- 
gether, that I wanted to meet them in another world, 
if I could not in this ; and I wept, as a child weeps 
at its first grief. 

There was somewhat, too, in their beautiful life 
of loving freedom which was a reproach to me. 
Why was not my life as happy and as graceful as 
theirs 1 Because they were innocent, confiding, and 
unconscious, they fulfilled all the laws of their be- 
ing without obstruction. 

1 Inward, inward to thy heart, 

Kindly Nature, take me ; 
Lovely, even as thou art, 

Full of loving make me. 
Thou knowest nought of dead-cold forms, 

Knowest nought of littleness ; 
Lifeful truth thy being warms, 

Majesty and earnestness.' 

The old Greeks observed a beautiful festival, call- 
ed ' The Welcome of the Swallows.' When these 
social birds first returned in the spring-time, the chil- 
dren went about in procession, with music and gar- 
lands ; receiving presents at every door, where they 
stopped to sing a welcome to the swallows, in that 
graceful old language, so melodious even in its ruins, 
that the listener feels as if the brilliant azure of Gre- 
cian skies, the breezy motion of their olive groves, 
and the gush of their silvery fountains, had all passed 
into a monument of liquid and harmonious sounds. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 145 



LETTER XXI. 



June 16, 1842. 



If you want refreshment for the eye, and the lux- 
ury of pure breezes, go to Staten Island. This beau- 
tiful little spot, which lies so gracefully on the wa- 
ters, was sold by the Indians to the Dutch, in 1657, 
for ten shirts, thirty pairs of stockings, ten guns, 
thirty bars of lead for balls, thirty pounds of powder, 
twelve coats, two pieces of duffil, thirty kettles, thir- 
ty hatchets, twenty hoes, and a case of knives and 
awls. This was then considered a fair compen- 
sation for a tract eighteen miles long and seven 
broad ; and compared with most of our business 
transactions with the Indians, it will not appear il- 
liberal. The facilities for fishing, the abundance of 
oysters, the pleasantness of the situation, and old as- 
sociations, all endeared it to the natives. They lin- 
gered about the island, like reluctant ghosts, until 
1670 ; when, being urged to depart, they made a 
new requisition of four hundred fathoms of wam- 
pum, and a large number of guns and axes ; a de- 
mand which was very wisely complied with, for the 
sake of a final ratification of the treaty. 

On this island is a quarantine ground, unrivalled 
for the airiness of its situation, and the comfort and 
cleanliness of its arrangements. Of the foreigners 
from all nations which flood our shores, an immense 
proportion here take their first footstep on American 
soil ; and judging from the welcome Nature gives 
them, they might well believe they had arrived in 
Paradise. From the high grounds, three hundred 
feet above the level of the sea, may be seen a most 
beautiful variety of land and sea, of rural quiet and 
city splendor. Long Island spreads before you her 
vernal forests, and fields of golden grain ; the North 
13 



146 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

and East rivers sparkle in the distance ; and the 
magnificent Hudson is seen flowing on in joyful free- 
dom. The city itself seems clean and bright in the 
distance — its deformities hidden, and its beauties ex- 
aggerated, like the fame of far-off heroes. When 
the sun shines on its steeples, windows, and roofs of 
glittering tin, it is as if the Fire Spirits had sudden- 
ly created a city of fairy palaces. And when the 
still shadows creep over it, and the distant lights 
shine like descended constellations, twinkling to the 
moaning music of the sea, there is something oppres- 
sive in its solemn beauty. Then comes the golden 
morning light, as if God suddenly unveiled his glo- 
ry ! There on the bright waters float a thousand 
snowy sails, like a troop of beautiful sea birds ; and 
imagination, strong in morning freshness, flies off 
through the outlet to the distant sea, and circles all 
the globe with its wreath of flowers. 

Amid these images of joy, reposes the quarantine 
burying-ground ; bringing sad association, like the 
bass-note in a music-box. How many, who leave 
their distant homes full of golden visions, come here 
to take their first and last look of the promised land. 
What to them are all the fair, broad acres of this 
new world ? They need but the narrow heritage of 
a grave. But every soul that goes hence, apart from 
friends and kindred, carries with it a whole unre- 
vealed epic of joy and sorrow, of gentle sympathies 
and passion's fiery depths. O, how rich in more 
than Shaksperean beauty would be the literature of 
that quarantine ground, if all the images that pass 
in procession before those dying eyes, would write 
themselves in daguerreotype ! 

One of the most interesting places on this island, 
is the Sailor's Snug Harbor. A few years ago, a 
gentleman by the name of Randall, left a small farm, 
that rented for two or three hundred dollars, at the 
corner of Eleventh-street and Broadway, for the 
benefit of old and worn-out sailors. This property 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 147 

increased in value, until it enabled the trustees to 
purchase a farm on Staten Island, and erect a noble 
stone edifice, as a hospital for disabled seamen ; with 
an annual income of nearly thirty thousand dollars. 
The building has a very handsome exterior, and is 
large, airy, and convenient. The front door opens 
into a spacious hall, at the extremity of which flow- 
ers and evergreens are arranged one above another, 
like the terrace of a conservatory ; and from the en- 
tries above, you look down into this pretty nook of 
' greenery.' The whole aspect of things is extremely 
pleasant — with the exception of the sailors them- 
selves. There is a sort of torpid resignation in coun- 
tenance and movement, painful to witness. They 
reminded me of what some one said of the Greenwich 
pensioners : — ' They seem to be waiting for death.' 
No outward comfort seemed wanting, except the con- 
stant prospect of the sea : but they stood alone in the 
world — no wives, no children. Connected by no link 
with the ever-active present, a monotonous Future 
stretched before them, made more dreary by its con- 
trast with the keen excitement and ever-shifting va- 
riety of their Past life of peril and pleasure. I have 
always thought too little provision was made for this 
lassitude of the mind, in most benevolent institutions. 
Men accustomed to excitement, cannot do altogether 
without it. It is a necessity of nature, and should 
be ministered to in all innocent forms. Those poor 
old tars should have sea-songs and instrumental mu- 
sic, once in awhile, to stir their sluggish blood ; and 
a feast might be given on great occasions, to young- 
er sailors from temperance boarding-houses, that the 
Past might have a chance to hear from the Present. 
We perform but a half charity, when we comfort 
the body and leave the soul desolate. 

Within the precincts of the city, too, are pleasant 
and safe homes provided for sailors ; spacious, well~ 
ventilated, and supplied with libraries and museums. 

After all, this nineteenth century, with all its tur- 



148 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

moil and clatter, has some lovely features about it? 
If evil spreads with unexampled rapidity, good is 
abroad too with miraculous and omnipresent activity. 
Unless we are struck by the tail of a comet, or 
swallowed by the sun meanwhile, we certainly shall 
get the world right side up, by and by. 

Among the many instrumentalities at work to pro- 
duce this, increasing interest in the sailor's welfare 
is a cheering omen. Of all classes, except the negro 
slaves, they have been the most neglected and the 
most abused. The book of judgment can alone re- 
veal how much they have suffered on the wide, deep 
ocean, with no door to escape from tyranny, no 
friendly forest to hide them from the hunter ; doom- 
ed, at their best estate, to suffer almost continued de- 
privation of home, that worst feature in the curse of 
Cain ; their minds shut up in caves of ignorance so 
deep, that if religion enters with a friendly lamp, it 
too frequently terrifies them with the shadows it 
makes visible. Religious they must be, in some 
sense, even when they know it not ; for no man with 
a human soul within him, can be unconscious of the 
Divine Presence, with infinite space round him, the 
blue sky overhead, with its million-world lamps, and 
everywhere, beneath and around him, 

' Great ocean, strangest of creation's sons ! 
Unconquerable, unreposed, untired ! 
That rolls the wild, profound, eternal bass 
In Nature's anthem, and makes music such 
As pleaseth. the ear of God.' 

Thus circumstanced, the sailor cannot be ignorant, 
without being superstitious too. The Infinite comes 
continually before him, in the sublimest symbols of 
sight and sound. He does not know the language, 
but he feels the tone. Goethe has told us, in most 
beautiful allegory, of two bridges, whereby earnest 
souls pass from the Finite to the Infinite. One is a 
rainbow, which spans the dark river — and this is 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 149 

Faith ; the other is a shadow cast quite over by the 
giant Superstition, when he stands between the set- 
ting sun and the unknown shore. 

Blessings on all friendly hands that are leading 
the sailor to the rainbow bridge. His spirit is made 
reverential in the great temple of Nature, resounding 
with the wild voices of the winds, and strange mu- 
sic of the storm-organ ; too long has it been left 
trembling and shivering on the bridge of shadows. 
For him too the rainbow spans the dark stream, and 
becomes at last a bridge of gems. 



LETTER XXII. 

June 23, 1842. 

The highest gifts my soul has received, during its 
world-pilgrimage, have often been bestowed by those 
who were poor, both in money and intellectual culti- 
vation. Among these donors, I particularly remem- 
ber a hard-working, uneducated mechanic, from In- 
diana or Illinois. He told me that he was one of 
thirty or forty New Englanders, who, twelve years 
before, had gone out to settle in the western wilder- 
ness. They were mostly neighbours ; and had been 
drawn to unite together in emigration from a general 
unity of opinion on various subjects. For some years 
previous, they had been in the habit of meeting oc- 
casionally at each others' houses, to talk over their 
duties to God and man, in all simplicity of heart. 
Their library was the gospel, their priesthood the 
inward light. There were then no anti-slavery soci- 
eties; but thus taught, and reverently willing to 
learn, they had no need of such agency, to discover 
that it was wicked to enslave. The efforts of peace 
societies had reached this secluded band only in 
13* 



150 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

broken echoes, and non-resistance societies had no 
existence. But with the volume of the Prince of 
Peace, and hearts open to his influence, what need 
had they of preambles and resolutions ? 

Rich in spiritual culture, this little band started 
for the far West. Their inward homes were bloom- 
ing gardens ; they made their outward in a wilder- 
ness. They were industrious and frugal, and all 
things prospered under their hands. But soon wolves 
came near the fold, in the shape of reckless, unprin- 
cipled adventurers; believers in force and cunning, 
who acted according to their creed. The colony of 
practical Christians spoke of their depredations in 
terms of gentlest remonstrance, and repaid them with 
unvarying kindness. They went farther — they op- 
enly announced, ' You may do us what evil you 
choose, we will return nothing but good.' Lawyers 
came into the neighborhood, and offered their ser- 
vices to settle disputes. They answered, ' We" have 
no need of you. As neighbors, we receive you in 
the most friendly spirit ; but for us, your occupation 
has ceased to exist' ' What will you do, if rascals 
burn your barns, and steal your harvests?' 'We 
will return good for evil. We believe this is the 
highest truth, and therefore the best expediency.' 

When the rascals heard this, they considered it a 
marvellous good joke, and said and did many pro- 
voking things, which to them seemed witty. Bars 
were taken down in the night, and cows let into the 
cornfields. The Christians repaired the damage as 
well as they could, put the cows in the barn, and at 
twilight drove them gently home, saying, ' Neigh- 
bour, your cows have been in my field. I have fed 
them well during the day, but I would not keep 
them all night, lest the children should suffer for 
their milk.' 

If this was fun, they who planned the joke found 
no heart to laugh at it. By degrees, a visible change 
came over these troublesome neighbours. They 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 151 

ceased to cut off horses' tails, and break the legs of 
poultry. Rude boys would say to a younger brother, 
' Don't throw that stone, Bill ! When I killed the 
chicken last week, didn't they send it to mother, 
because they thought chicken-broth would be 
good for poor Mary ] I should think you'd be 
ashamed to throw stones at their chickens.' Thus 
was evil overcome with good, till not one was found 
to do them wilful injury. 

Years passed on, and saw them thriving in world- 
ly substance, beyond their neighbours, yet beloved 
by all. From them the lawyer and the constable 
obtained no fees. The sheriff stammered and apolo- 
gized, when he took their hard-earned goods in pay- 
ment for the war- tax. They mildly replied, \ 'Tis 
a bad trade, friend. Examine it in the light of con- 
science and see if it be not so.' But while they re- 
fused to pay such fees and taxes, they were liberal 
to a proverb in their contributions for all useful and 
benevolent purposes. 

At the end of ten years, the public lands, which 
they had chosen for their farms, were advertised for 
sale by auction. According to custom, those who 
had settled and cultivated the soil, were considered 
to have a right to bid it in at the government price ; 
which at that time was $1,25 per acre. But the fe- 
ver of land-speculation then chanced to run unusu- 
ally high. Adventurers from all parts of the country 
were flocking to the auction ; and capitalists in Bal- 
timore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, were 
sending agents to buy up western lands. No one 
supposed that custom, or equity, would be regarded. 
The first day's sale snowed that speculation ran to 
the verge of insanity. Land was eagerly bought in, 
at seventeen, twenty-five, and thirty dollars an acre. 
The Christian colony had small hope of retaining 
their farms. As first settlers, they had chosen the 
best land ; and persevering industry had brought it 
into the highest cultivation. Its market- value was 



152 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

much greater than the acres already sold, at exorbi- 
tant prices. In view of these facts, they had prepar- 
ed their minds for another remove into the wilder- 
ness, perhaps to be again ejected by a similar process. 
But the morning their lot was offered for sale, they 
observed, with grateful surprise, that their neigh- 
bours were everywhere busy among the crowd, beg- 
ging and expostulating : — ' Don't bid on these lands ! 
These men have been working hard on them for ten 
years. During all that time, they never did harm to 
man or brute. They are always ready to do good 
for evil. They are a blessing to any neighbourhood. 
It would be a sin and a shame to bid on their lands. 
Let them go, at the government price. 

The sale came on ; the cultivators of the soil offer- 
ed $1,25, intending to bid higher if necessary. But 
among all that crowd of selfish, reckless speculators, 
not one bid over them ! Without an opposing voice, 
the fair acres returned to them ! I do not know a 
more remarkable instance of evil overcome with 
good. The wisest political economy lies folded up 
in the maxims of Christ. 

With delighted reverence, I listened to this unlet- 
tered backwoodsman, as he explained his philosophy 
of universal love. '• What would you do,' said I, 'if 
an idle, thieving vagabond came among you, resolv- 
ed to stay, but determined not to work 1 ' 'We 
would give him food when hungry, shelter him 
when cold, and always treat him as a brother.' 
1 Would not this process attract such characters l 
How would you avoid being overrun with them ? ' 
' Such characters would either reform, or not remain 
with us. We should never speak an angry word, or 
refuse to minister to their necessities ; but we should 
invariably regard them with the deepest sadness, as 
we would a guilty, but beloved son. This is harder 
for the human soul to bear, than whips or prisons. 
They could not stand it ; I am sure they could not. 
It would either melt them, or drive them away. In 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 153 

nine cases out of ten, I believe it would melt 
them.' 

I felt rebuked for my want of faith, and consequent 
shallowness of insight. That hard-handed labourer 
brought greater riches to my soul than an Eastern 
merchant laden with pearls. Again I repeat, money 
is not wealth. 



LETTER XXIII. 

July 7, 1842. 

It has been my fortune, in the course of a chang- 
ing life, to meet with many strange characters ; but 
I never, till lately, met with one altogether unac- 
countable. 

Some six or eight years ago, I read a very odd 
pamphlet, called ' The Patriarchal System of Socie- 
ty, as it exists uuder the name of Slavery ; with its 
necessity and advantages. By an inhabitant of 
Florida.' The writer assumes that ' the patriarchal 
system constitutes the bond of social compact ; and 
is better adapted for strength, durability, and inde- 
pendence, than any state of society hitherto a- 
dopted.' 

' The prosperous state of our northern neighbors,' 
says he, ' proceeds, in many instances, indirectly 
from southern slave labour ; though they are not 
aware of it.' This was written in 1829 ; read in 
these days of universal southern bankruptcy, it seems 
ludicrous ; as if it had been intended for sarcasm, 
rather than sober earnest. 

But the main object of this singular production is 
to prove that colour ought not to be the badge of de- 
gradation ; that the only distinction should be be- 
tween slave and free — not between white and col- 
oured. That the free people of colour, instead of 
being persecuted, and driven from the Southern 



154 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

States, ought to be made eligible to all offices and 
means of wealth. This would form, he thinks, a 
grand chain of security, by which the interests of 
the two castes would become united, and the slaves 
be kept in permanent subordination. Intermarriage 
between the races he strongly advocates ; not only 
as strengthening the bond of union between castes 
that otherwise naturally war upon each other, but as 
a great improvement of the human race. ' The in- 
termediate grades of colour,' says he, ' are not only 
healthy, but, when condition is favourable, they are 
improved in shape, strength, and beauty. Daily 
experience shows that there is no natural antipathy 
between the castes on account of colour. It only re- 
quires to repeal laws as impolitic as they are unjust 
and unnatural — laws which confound beauty, merit, 
and condition, in one state of infamy and degrada- 
tion on account of complexion. It is only required 
to leave nature to find out a safe and wholesome rem- 
edy for evils, which of all others are the most deplo- 
rable, because they are morally irreconcileable with 
the fundamental principles of happiness and self- 
preservation.' 

I afterwards heard that Z. Kinsley, the author of 
this pamphlet, lived with a coloured wife, and treated 
her and her children with kindness and consideration, 
A traveller, writing from Florida, stated that he vis- 
ited a planter, whose coloured wife sat at the head of 
the table, surrounded by healthy and handsome chil- 
dren. That the parlour was full of portraits of Af- 
rican beauties, to which the gentleman drew his at- 
tention, with much exultation ; dwelling with great 
earnestness on the superior physical endowments of 
the coloured race, and the obvious advantages of 
amalgamation. I at once conjectured that this ec- 
centric planter was the author of the pamphlet on 
the patriarchal system. 

Soon after, it was rumored that Mr. Kinsley had 
purchased a large tract of land of the Haitien gov- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 155 

ernment ; that he had carried his slaves there, and 
given them lots. Then I heard that it was a colony, 
established for the advantage of his own mulatto 
sons ; that the workmen were in a qualified kind of 
slavery, by consent of the government; and that 
he still held a large number of slaves in Florida. 

Last week, this individual, who had so much ex- 
cited my curiosity, was in the city ; and I sought an 
interview. I found his conversation entertaining, but 
marked by the same incongruity, that characterizes 
his writings and his practice. His head is a peculiar 
one ; it would, I think, prove as great a puzzle to 
phrenologists, as he himself is to moralists and phi- 
losophers. 

I told him of the traveller's letter, and asked if 
he were the gentleman described. 

' I never saw the letter ; ' he replied ; ' but from 
what you say, I have no doubt that I am the man. 
I always thought and said, that the coloured race 
were superior to us, physically and morally. They 
are more healthy, have more graceful forms, softer 
skins, and sweeter voices. They are more docile 
and affectionate, more faithful in their attachments, 
and less prone to mischief, than the white race. If it 
were not so, they could not have been kept in slavery.' 

'It is a shameful and a shocking thought,' said I, 
■ that we should keep them in slavery by reason of 
their very virtues.' 

'It is so, ma'am; but, like many other shameful 
things, it is true.' 

' Where did you obtain your portraits of coloured 
beauties ? ' 

' In various places. Some of them I got on the 
coast of Africa. If you want to see beautiful spec- 
imens of the human race, you should see some of the 
native women there.' 

1 Then you have been on the coast of Africa 1 ' 

1 Yes, ma'am ; I carried on the slave trade several 
years.' 



156 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

1 You announce that fact very coolly,' said I. ' Do 
you know that, in New England, men look upon a 
slave-trader with as much horror as they do upon a 
pirate?' 

1 Yes ; and I am glad of it. They will look upon 
a slaveholder just so, by and by. Slave trading was 
very respectable business when I was young. The 
first merchants in England and America were en- 
gaged in it. Some people hide things which they 
think other people don't like. I never conceal any- 
thing.' 

I Where did you become acquainted with your 
wife?' 

' On the coast of Africa, ma'am. She was a new 
nigger, when I first saw her.' 

' What led you to become attached to her ?' 
' She was a fine, tall figure, black as jet, but very 
handsome. She was very capable, and could carry 
on all the affairs of the plantation in my absence, as 
well as I could myself. She was affectionate and 
faithful, and I could trust her. I have fixed her 
nicely in my Haitien colony. I wish you would go 
there. She would give you the best in the house. 
You ought to go, to see how happy the human race 
can be. It is in a fine, rich valley, about thirty miles 
from Port Platte ; heavily timbered with mahogany 
all round ; well watered ; flowers so beautiful ; fruits 
in abundance, so delicious that you could not refrain 
from stopping to eat, till you could eat no more. My 
son has laid out good roads, and built bridges and 
mills ; the people are improving, and everything is 
prosperous. I am anxious to establish a good school 
there. I engaged a teacher ; but somebody persua- 
ded him it was mean to teach niggers, and so he fell 
off from his bargain.' 

I I have heard that you hold your laborers in a sort 
of qualified slavery ; and some friends of the coloured 
race have apprehensions that you may sell them 
again.' 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 157 

: My labourers in Haiti are not slaves. They are 
a kind of indented apprentices. I give them land, 
and they bind themselves to work for me. I have 
no power to take them away from that island ; and 
you knqw very well that I could not sell them there.' 

1 1 am glad you have relinquished the power to 
make slaves of them again. I had charge of a fine, in- 
telligent fugitive, about a year ago. I wanted to send 
him to your colony; but I did not dare to trust you.' 

' You need not have been afraid, ma'am. I should 
be the last man on earth to give up a runaway. If 
my own were to run away, I wouldn't go after 



'em' 



1 If these are your feelings, why don't you take all 
your slaves to Haiti ? ' 

' I have thought that subject all over, ma'am ; and 
I have settled it in my own mind. All we can do 
in this world is to balance evils. I want to do great 
things for Haiti ; and in order to do them, I must 
have money. If I have no negroes to cultivate my 
Florida lands, they will run to waste ; and then I can 
raise no money from them for the benefit of Haiti. 
I do all I can to make them comfortable, and they 
love me like a father. They would do any thing on 
earth to please me. Once I stayed away longer than 
usual, and they thought I was dead. When I reached 
home, they overwhelmed me with their caresses ; I 
could hardly stand it.' 

1 Does it not grieve you to think of leaving these 
faithful, kind-hearted people to the cruel chances of 
slavery ? ' 

'Yes, it does; but I hope to get all my plans settled 
in a few years.' 

1 You tell me you are seventy-six years old ; what 
if you should die before your plans are completed?' 

' Likely enough I shall. In that case, my heirs 
would break my will, I dare say, and my poor nig- 
gers would be badly off.' 
14 



158 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

I Then manumit them now ; and avoid this dread- 
ful risk.' 

I I have thought that all over, ma'am ; and I have 
settled it that I can do more good by keeping them 
in slavery a few years more. The best we can do 
in this world is to balance evils judiciously.' 

' But you do not balance wisely. Remember that 
all the descendants of your slaves, through all com- 
ing time, will be affected by your decision.' 

' So will all Haiti be affected, through all com- 
ing time, if I can carry out my plans. To do good 
in the world, we must have money. That's the way 
I reasoned when I carried on the slave trade. It was 
very profitable then.' 

' And do you have rro remorse of conscience, in 
recollecting that bad business ') ' 

' Some things I do not like to remember ; but they 
were not things in w r hich I was to blame ; they were 
inevitably attendant on the trade.' 

I argued that any trade must be wicked, that had 
such inevitable consequences. He admitted it ; but 
still clung to his balance of evils. If that theory is 
admitted in morals at all, I confess that his practice 
seems to me a legitimate, though an extreme result. 
But it was altogether vain to argue with him about 
fixed principles of right and wrong ; one might as 
well fire small shot at the hide of a rhinoceros. Yet 
were there admirable points about him ; perseverance, 
that would conquer the world ; an heroic candour, 
that avowed all things, creditable and discreditable ; 
and kindly sympathies too — though it must be con- 
fessed that they go groping and floundering about in 
the strangest fashion. 

He came from Scotland; no other country, per- 
haps, except New England, could have produced such 
a character. His father was a Quaker : and he still 
loves to attend Quaker meetings; particularly silent 
ones, where he says he has planned some of his best 
bargains. To complete the circle of contradictions, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 159 

he likes the abolitionists, and is a prodigious admirer 
of George Thompson. 

' My neighbours call me an abolitionist,' said he; 
1 1 tell them they may do so, in welcome ; for it is a 
pity they shouldn't have one case of amalgamation 
to point at.' 

This singular individual has been conversant with 
all sorts of people, and seen almost all parts of the 
world. ' I have known the Malay and the African, 
the North American Indian, and the European,' said 
he ; ' and the more I've seen of the world, the less I 
understand it, It's a queer place ; that's a fact.' 

Probably this mixture with people of all creeds and 
customs, combined with the habit of looking outward 
for his guide of action, may have bewildered his 
moral sense, and produced his system of ' balancing 
evils ! ' A theory obviously absurd, as well as slippery 
in its application; for none but God can balance evils; 
it requires omniscience and omnipresence to do it. 

His conversation produced great activity of thought 
on the subject of conscience, and of that ' light that 
lighteth every man who cometh into the world.' 
Whether this utilitarian remembers it or not, he must 
have stifled many convictions before he arrived at 
his present state of mind. And so it must have been 
with i the pious John Newton, whose devotional let- 
ters from the coast of Africa, while he was slave- 
trading there, record ' sweet seasons of communion 
with his God.' That he was not left without a wit- 
ness within him, is proved by the fact, that in his 
journal he expresses gratitude to God for opening the 
door for him to leave the slave trade, by providing 
other employment. The monitor ivithin did not de- 
ceive him; but his education was at war with its 
dictates, because it taught him that whatever was le- 
galized was right. Plain as the guilt of the slave 
trade now is, to every man, woman, and child, it was 
not so in the time of Clarkson ; had it been other- 
wise, there would have been no need of his labours. 



160 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

He was accused of planning treason and insurrection, 
plots were laid against his life, and the difficulty of 
combating his obviously just principles, led to the 
vilest misrepresentations and the most false assump- 
tions. Thus it must always be with those who at- 
tack a very corrupt public opinion. 

The slave trade, which all civilized laws now de- 
nounce as piracy, was defended in precisely the same 
spirit that slavery is now. Witness the following re- 
marks from Boswell, the biographer of Dr. Johnson, 
whose opinions echo the tone of genteel society : 

' I beg leave to enter my most solemn protest against 
Dr. Johnsoivs general doctrine with respect to the 
slave trade. I will resolutely say that his unfavor- 
able notion of it was owing to prejudice, and imper- 
fect or false information. The wild and dangerous 
attempt which has for some time been persisted in, 
to obtain an act of our legislature to abolish so very 
important and necessary a branch of commercial in- 
terest, must have been crushed at once, had not the 
insignificance of the zealots, who vainly took the 
lead in it, made the vast body of planters, merchants, 
and others, whose immense properties are involved 
in that trade, reasonably enough suppose that there 
could be no danger. The encouragement which the 
attempt has received, excites my wonder and indig- 
nation ; and though some men of superior abilities 
have supported it, (whether from a love of tempo- 
rary popularity when prosperous, or a love of gener- 
al mischief when desperate), my opinion is unshaken. 
To abolish a status which in all ages God has sanc- 
tioned, and man continued, would not only be rob- 
bery to an innumerable class of our fellow subjects, 
but it would be extreme cruelty to African savages ; 
a portion of whom it saves from massacre, or intoler- 
able bondage in their own country, and introduces 
into a much happier state of life; especially now, 
when their passage to the West Indies, and their treat- 
ment there, is humanely regulated. To abolish that 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 161 

trade, would be to shut the gates of mercy on man- 
kind.' 

These changes in the code of morals adopted by 
society, by no means unsettle my belief in eternal 
and unchangeable principles of right and wrong; 
neither do they lead me to doubt that in all these ca- 
ses men inwardly know better than they act. The 
slaveholder, when he manumits on his death-bed, 
thereby acknowledges that he has known he was 
doing Avrong. Public opinion expresses what men 
will to do ; not their inward perceptions. All kinds 
of crimes have been countenanced by public opinion, 
in some age or nation ; but we cannot as easily show 
how far they were sustained by reason and conscience 
in each individual. I believe the lamp never goes 
out, though it may shine dimly through a foggy at- 
mosphere. 

This consideration should renew our zeal to purify 
public opinion ; to let no act or word of ours help to 
corrupt it, in the slightest degree. How shall we 
fulfil this sacred trust, which each holds for the good 
of all 1 Not by calculating consequences ; not by 
balancing evils ; but by reverent obedience to our 
own highest convictions of individual duty. 

Few men ask concerning right and wrong of their 
own hearts. Few listen to the oracle within, which 
can only be heard in the stillness. The merchant 
seeks his moral standard on 'Change — a fitting name 
for a thing so fluctuating ; the sectary in the opinion 
of his small theological department ; the politician in 
the tumultuous echo of his party ; the worldling in 
the buzz of saloons. In a word, each man inquires 
of his public ; what wonder, then, that the answers 
are selfish as trading interest, blind as local preju- 
dice, and various as human whim? 

A German drawing-master once told me of a lad 
who wished to sketch landscapes from nature. The 
teacher told him that the first object was to choose 
14* 



162 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

some fired point of view. The sagacious pupil chose 
a cow grazing beneath the trees. Of course, his fixed 
point soon began to move hither and thither, as she 
was attracted by the sweetness of the pasturage ; and 
the lines of his drawing fell into strange confusion. 

This is a correct type of those who choose public 
opinion for their moral fixed point of view. It moves 
according to the provender before it, and they who trust 
to it, have but a whirling and distorted landscape. 

Coleridge defines public opinion as ' the average 
prejudices of the community.' Wo unto those who 
have no safer guide of principle and practice than 
this ' average of prejudices.' Wo unto them in an 
especial manner, in these latter days, when ' The 
windows of heaven are opened, and therefore the 
foundations of the earth do shake ! ' 

Feeble wanderers are they, following a flickering 
jack-o'lantern, when there is a calm, bright pole-star 
for ever above the horizon, to guide their steps, if 
they would but look to it. 



LETTER XXIV. 

July 28, 1842. 

When the spirit is at war with its outward envi- 
ronment, because it is not inwardly dwelling in trust- 
ful obedience to its God, how often does some very 
slight incident bring it back, humble, and repentant, 
to the Father's footstool ! A few days since, cities 
seemed to me such hateful places, that I deemed it 
the greatest of hardships to be pent up therein. As 
usual, the outward grew more and more detestable, 
as it reflected the restlessness of the inward. Piles 
of stone and rubbish, left by the desolating fire, looked 
more hot and dreary than ever ; they were building 
brick houses between me and the sunset — and in my 
requiring selfishness, I felt as if it were my sunset, and 
no man had a right to shut it out ; and then to add 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 163 

the last drop to my vexation, they painted the roof of 
house and piazza as fierce a red as if the mantle of the 
great fire, that destroyed its predecessor, had fallen 
over them. The wise course would have been, to 
try to find something agreeable in a red roof, since it 
suited my neighbour's convenience to have one. But 
the head was not in a mood to be wise, because the 
heart was not humble and obedient ; so I fretted in- 
wardly about the red roof, more than I would care 
to tell in words ; I even thought to myself, that it 
would be no more than just and right if people with 
such bad taste should be sent to live by themselves 
on a quarantine island. Then I began to think of 
myself as a most unfortunate and ill-used individ- 
ual, to be for ever pent up within brick walls with- 
out even a dandelion to gaze upon ; from that I fell 
to thinking of many fierce encounters between my 
will and necessity, and how will had always been 
conquered, chained, and sent to the treadmill to 
work. The more I thought after this fashion, hotter 
glared the the bricks, and fiercer glowed the red 
roof, under the scorching sun. I was making a des- 
ert within, to paint its desolate likeness on the scene 
without. 

A friend found me thus, and, having faith in Na- 
ture's healing power, he said, ' Let us seek green 
fields and flowery nooks.' So we walked abroad ; 
and while yet amid the rattle and glare of the city, 
close by the iron railway, I saw a very little, ragged 
child stooping over a small patch of stinted, dusty 
grass. She rose up with a broad smile over her hot 
lace, for she had found a white clover ! The tears 
were in my eyes. 'God bless thee, poor child !' said I : 
' thou hast taught my soul a lesson, which it will not 
soon forget. Thou poor neglected one, canst find blos- 
soms by the dusty wayside, and rejoice in thy hard 
path, as if it were a mossy bank strewn with violets. 7 
I felt humbled before that ragged, gladsome child. 
Then saw I plainly that walls of brick and mortar 



164 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

did not, and could not, hem me in. I thought of 
those who loved me, and every remembered kind- 
ness was a flower in my path ; I thought of intel- 
lectual gardens, where this child might perchance 
never enter, but where I could wander at will over 
acres broad as the world ; and if even there, the 
restless spirit felt a limit, lo, poetry had but to throw 
a ray thereon, and the fair gardens of earth were re- 
flected in the heavens like the fata morgana of Ital- 
ian skies, in a drapery of rainbows. Because I was 
poor in spirit, straightway there was none so rich as 
I. Then was it revealed to me that only the soul 
which gathers flowers by the dusty wayside can tru- 
ly love the fresh anemone by the running brook, or 
the trailing arbutus hiding its sweet face among the 
fallen leaves. I returned home a better and wiser 
woman, thanks to the ministry of that little one. I 
saw that I was not ill-used and unfortunate, but bles- 
sed beyond others ; one of Nature's favorites, whom 
she ever took to her kindly heart, and comforted in 
all seasons of distress and waywardness. Though 
the sunset was shut out, there still remained the 
roseate flush of twilight, as if the sun, in answer to 
my love, had written to me a farewell message on the 
sky. The red piazza stood there, blushing for him 
who painted it ; but it no longer pained my eye- 
sight ; I thought what a friendly warmth it would 
have, seen through the wintry snows. Oh, blessed 
indeed aie little children ! Mortals do not under- 
stand half they owe them ; for the good they do us 
is a spiritual gift, and few perceive how it inter- 
twines the mystery of life. They form a ladder of 
garlands on which the angels descend to our souls ; 
and without them, such communication would be 
utterly lost. Let us strive to be like little children. 

As I mused on the altered aspect of the outward 
world, according to the state of him who looked up- 
on it, I raised to my eye a drop from a broken chan- 
delier. That glass fragment was like a fairy wand, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 165 

or Aladdin's wondrous lamp. The line of tumbling 
wooden shantees, which I had often blamed the ca- 
pricious fire for sparing, the piles of lime and stones 
that wearied my eyesight, were at once changed to 
rainbows ; even the offensive red roof smiled upon 
me in the softened beauty of purple and gold. Not 
earth, but the medium through which earth is seen, 
produces beauty. I said to myself, ' Whereunto 
shall I liken this angular bit of glass V The answer 
came to me in music — in words and tones of song : 
' The faith touching all things with hues of heaven.' 
Then prayed I earnestly for that faith, as a perpetu- 
al gift. Prayer, earnest and true, rose from that frag- 
ment of broken glass ; thus, from things most common 
and trivial, spring the highest and the holiest. 

I thought then that I would never again look on 
outward circumstances, except in the cheerful light 
of a trusting and grateful heart. Yet within a week, 
came the restless comparing of me with thee. If 
I could only be situated as such an one was, how 
good I could be, and how much good I would do. I 
said within myself, ' This must not be. If I in- 
dulge this train of thought, the walls will again 
crowd upon me, and the bricks glare worse than 
ever.' So I walked to the Battery, to look at moon- 
light on the water ; in full faith that ' Nature never 
did betray the heart that loved her.' The moon had 
not yet risen ; but softly from the recesses of Castle 
Garden came tones of music, welcome to my soul as 
a mother's voice. We walked in, thinking only to 
hear the band, and lounge quietly on a seat over- 
hanging the water. All pleasure in this world is but 
the cessation of some pain ; and they only who work 
unto weariness in mind or body, can fully enjoy the 
luxury of repose. And this repose was so perfect, 
so strengthening ! Instead of the pent-up, stifling 
air of the central city, was a cool, evening breeze, 
gentle as if a thousand winged messengers fanned 
one's cheeks for love ; below, the ever-flowing water 



166 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

laved the stones with a refreshing sound ; round us 
floated music, so plaintive and so shadowy ! It 
sung ' The light of other days ' — the very voice of 
moonlight, soft and trembling over the dim waters of 
the Past ; and then, as if the atmosphere were not 
already bathed in sufficient beauty, slowly rose the 
mild, majestic moon ; and the water-spirits hailed 
her presence with mazy, undulating dance, as if re- 
joicing in the glittering wealth of jewelry she gave. 
At such an hour, beyond all others, does nature seem 
to be filled with an inward, hidden life ; in serious 
and beseeching tones, she seems to say, ' Lo I reveal 
unto you a great mystery, lying at the foundation of 
all being. I speak it in all tones, I write it in all 
colours. When will the mortal arise who under- 
stands my language ? ' And a sacred voice answers, 
1 When His will is done on earth, as it is done in 
heaven. 1 In the midst of such communion, the soul 
feels that 

' This visible nature and this common world, 
Is all too narrow.' 

Wings wave in the air, voices speak through the sea, 
and the rustling trees are whispering spirits. It was 
this yearning after the spiritual that pervades all 
things, whose presence, never found, is constantly 
revealed in so many echoes — it is this dim longing, 
which of old ' peopled space with life and mystical 
predominance ; this filled the grove with dryads, the 
waves with nymphs, the earth with fairies, the sky 
with angels. The external and the sensual call this 
the ravings of Imagination ; and they know not that 
she is the priestess of high Truth. 

All this I did not think of, as I leaned over the 
waters of Castle Garden ; but this, and far more, was 
spoken into my heart ; and I shall find it all recorded 
in rainbow letters, on my journal there beyond. 

In such listening mood, when the outward lay be- 
fore me, in hieroglyphic symbols of a volume so in- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 167 

finite, I turned with a feeling of sadness toward a 
painted representation of Vera Cruz, which the bill 
proclaimed was to be taken by the French fleet that 
evening, for the amusement of spectators. The im- 
itation of a distant city was certainly good, speaking 
according to the theatrical standard ; but it seemed 
to me desecration, that Art should thus intrude her 
delusions into the sanctuary of Nature. In a mood 
less elevated, I might have scorned her pretensions, 
with a proud impatience; but as it was, I simply felt 
sad at the incongruity. I looked at the moon in her 
serene beauty, at the little boats, here floating across 
the veil of silver blonde, which she had thrown over 
the dancing waves, and there, with lanterns, gliding 
like fire-flies among the deep distant shadows ; and 
I said if Art ventures into this presence, let her come 
only as the Greek Diana, or marble nymph sleeping 
on her urn. 

But Art revenged herself for the slight estimation 
in which I held her. She could not satisfy me with 
beauty harmonious with Nature ; but she charmed 
with the brilliancy of contrast. Opposite me I saw a 
light mildly splendid, as if seen through an atmos- 
phere of motionless water. It had a fairy look, and 
I could not otherwise than observe it, from time to 
time, though the moonbeams played so gracefully 
and still. Anon, with a whizzing sound, it became 
a wheel of fire ; then it changed to a hexagon, set 
with emeralds, topaz, and rubies ; then circles of or- 
ange, white, and crimson light revolved swiftly 
round a resplendent centre of amethyst ; then it be- 
came flowers made of gems ; and after manifold 
changes of unexpected beauty, it revolved a large 
star, set with jewels of all rainbow hues, over which 
there fell a continual fountain of golden rain. It 
was called the kaleidescope ; and its fairy splendour 
far exceeded anything I ever imagined of fireworks. 
I asked pardon of insulted Art, and thanked her too 
for the pleasure she had given me. 



168 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

I turned again to moonlight and silence, and my 
happy spirit carried no discord there. Even when 
I thought of returning to the hot and crowded city, I 
said, ' This too will I do in cheerfulness. I will 
learn of Nature to love all, and do all.' Slowly, and 
with loving reluctance, we turned away from the 
moon-lighted waters ; then came across the waves 
the liquid melody of a flute ; it called us back with 
such friendly, sweet intreaty, that we could not oth- 
erwise than stop to listen to its last silvery cadence. 
Again we turned away, and had nearly made our 
escape, when an accordion from a distant boat, in 
softened accents begged us still to linger. Then a 
band on board the newly-arrived French frigate 
struck up the Cracovienne, the expressive dance of 
Poland, bringing with it images of romantic grace, 
and strange, deep thoughts of the destiny of nations. 
We lingered and lingered. Nature and Art seemed 
to have conspired that night to do their best to please 
us. At last the sounds died away ; and stepping to 
their echo in our memories, we passed out; the iron 
gate of the Battery clanked behind us ; the streets 
reared their brick Avails between us and the loveli- 
ness of earth and heaven. But they could not shut 
it out ; for it had passed into our souls. 

You will smile, and say the amount of all this ro- 
mancing is a confession that I was a tired and way- 
ward child, needing moonlight and a show to restore 
my serenity. And what of that ? If I am not too 
perfect to be in a wayward humor, I surely will not 
be too dignified to tell of it. I say, as Bettine does 
to Giinderode : — ' How glad I am to be so insignifi- 
cant. I need not fork up discreet thoughts when I 
write to thee, but just narrate how things are. Once 
I thought I must not write unless I could give 
importance to the letter by a bit of moral, or some 
discreet thought ; now I think not to chisel out, or 
glue together my thoughts. Let others do that If 
I must write so, I cannot think.' 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 169 



LETTER XXV. 

August 4, 1842. 

Last week, for a single day, I hid myself in the 
green sanctuary of Nature ; and from the rising of 
the sun till the going down of the moon, took no 
more thought of cities, than if such excrescences 
never existed on the surface of the globe. A huge 
wagon, traversing our streets, under the midsummer 
sun, bearing in immense letters, the words, Ice from 
Rockland Lake, had frequently attracted my atten- 
tion, and become associated with images of freshness 
and romantic beauty. Therefore, in seeking the 
country for a day, I said our course should be up 
the Hudson, to Rockland Lake. The noontide sun 
was scorching; and our heads were dizzy with the 
motion of the boat ; but these inconveniences, so 
irksome at the moment, are faintly traced on the 
tablet of memory. She engraves only the beautiful 
in lasting characters ; for beauty alone is immortal 
and divine. 

We stopped at Piermont, on the widest part of 
Tappan bay, where the Hudson extends itself to the 
width of three miles. On the opposite side, in full 
view from the Hotel, is Tarrytown, where poor 
Andre was captured. Tradition says, that a very 
large, white-wood tree, under which he was taken, 
was struck by lightning, on the very day that news 
of Arnold's death was received at Tarrytown. As I 
sat gazing on the opposite woods, dark in the shad- 
ows of moonlight, I thought upon how very slight a 
circumstance often depends the fate of individuals, 
and the destiny of nations. In the autumn of 1780, 
a farmer chanced to be making cider at a mill, on 
the east bank of the Hudson, near that part of Ha- 
verstraw Bay, called l Mother's Lap.' Two young 
15 



170 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

# 

men, carrying muskets, as usual in those troubled 
times, stopped for a draught of sweet cider, and 
seated themselves on a log to wait for it. The far- 
mer found them looking very intently on some dis- 
tant object, and inquired what they saw. ' Hush ! 
hush ! ' they replied ; ' the red-coats are yonder, just 
within the Lap,' pointing to an English gun-boat, 
with twenty-four men, lying on their oars. Behind 
the shelter of a rock they fired into the boat, and 
killed two persons. The British returned a random 
shot ; but ignorant of the number of their opponents, 
and seeing that it was useless to waste ammunition 
on a hidden foe, they returned whence they came, 
with all possible speed. This boat had been sent to 
convey Major Andre to the British sloop-of-war, 
Vulture, then lying at anchor off Teller's point. 
Shortly after, Andre arrived, and finding the boat 
gone, he, in attempting to proceed through the inte- 
rior, was captured. Had not those men stopped to 
drink sweet cider, it is probable that Andre would 
not have been hung; the American revolution might 
have terminated in quite different fashion ; men now 
deified as heroes, might have been handed down to 
posterity as traitors ; our citizens might be proud of 
claiming descent from tories ; and slavery have been 
abolished eight years ago, by virtue of our being 
British colonics. So much may depend on a draught 
of cider ! But would England herself have abolished 
slavery, had it not been for the impulse given to free 
principles by the American revolution l Probably 
not. It is not easy to calculate the consequences in- 
volved even in a draught of cider ; for no fact stands 
alone ; each has infinite relations. 

A very pleasant ride at sunset brought us to Or- 
angetown, to the lone field where Major Andre was 
executed. It is planted with potatoes, but the plough 
spares the spot on which was once his gallows and 
his grave. A rude heap of stones, with the remains 
of a dead fir tree in the midst, are all that mark it ; 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 171 

but tree and stones are covered with names. It 
is on an eminence, commanding a view of the coun- 
try for miles. I gazed on the surrounding woods, 
and remembered that on this self-same spot, the 
beautiful and accomplished young man walked back 
and forth, a few minutes preceding his execution, 
taking an earnest farewell look of earth and sky. 
My heart was sad within me. Our guide pointed to 
a house in full view, at half a mile's distance, which 
he told us was at that time the head-quarters of Gen- 
eral Washington. I turned my back suddenly upon 
it. The last place on earth where I would wish to 
think of Washington, is at the grave of Andre. I 
know that military men not only sanction, but ap- 
plaud the deed ; and reasoning according to the max- 
ims of war, I am well aware how much can be said 
in its defence. That Washington considered it a du- 
ty, the discharge of which was most painful to him, 
I doubt not. But, thank God, the instincts of my 
childhood are unvitiated by any such maxims. From 
the first hour I read of the deed, until the present 
day, I never did, and never could, look upon it as 
otherwise than cool, deliberate murder. That the 
theory and practice of war commends the transac- 
tion, only serves to prove the infernal nature of war 
itself. 

Milton (stern moralist as he was, in many respects) 
maintains, in his ' Christian Doctrine,' that false- 
hoods are sometimes not only allowable, but neces- 
sary. ' It is scarcely possible,' says he. ' to execute 
any of the artifices of war without openly uttering 
the greatest untruths, with the undisputable intention 
of deceiving.' And because war requires lies, we are 
told by a Christian moralist that lies must, therefore, 
be lawful ! It is observable that Milton is obliged to 
defend the necessity of falsehoods in the same way 
that fighting is defended ; he makes many references 
to the Jewish scriptures, but none to the Christian. 
Having established his position, that wilful, deliber- 



172 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ate deception was a necessary ingredient of war, it 
is strange, indeed, that his enlightened mind did not 
at once draw the inference that war itself must be 
evil. It would have been so, had not the instincts of 
heart and conscience been perverted by the maxims 
of men, and the customs of that fierce period. 

The soul may be brought into military drill ser- 
vice, like the limbs of the body ; and such a one, 
perchance, might stand on Andre's grave, and glory 
in his capture ; but I would rather suffer his inglori- 
ous death, than attain to such a state of mind. 

A few years ago, the Duke of York requested the 
British consul to send the remains of Major Andre to 
England. At that time, two thriving firs were found 
near the grave, and a peach tree, which a lady in 
the neighbourhood had planted there, in the kindness 
of her heart. The farmers, who came to witness the 
interesting ceremony, generally evinced the most re- 
spectful tenderness for the memory of the unfortunate 
dead ; and many of the women and children wept. 
A few loafers, educated by militia trainings, and 
Fourth of July declamation, began to murmur that 
the memory of General Washington was insulted by 
any respect shown to the remains of Andre; but the 
offer of a treat lured them to the tavern, where they 
soon became too drunk to guard the character of 
Washington. It was a beautiful day : and these dis- 
turbing spirits being removed, the impressive cere- 
mony proceeded in solemn silence. The coffin was 
in good preservation, and contained all the bones, 
with a small quantity of dust. The roots of the 
peach tree had entirely interwoven the skull with 
their fine network. His hair, so much praised for its 
uncommon beauty, was tied, on the day of his exe- 
cution, according to the fashion of the times. When 
his grave was opened, half a century afterward, the 
ribbon was found in perfect preservation, and sent to 
his sister in England. When it was known that the 
sarcophagus, containing his remains, had arrived in 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 173 

New York, on its way to London, many ladies sent 
garlands, and emblematic devices, to be wreathed 
around it, in memory of the ' beloved and lamented 
Andre.' In their compassionate hearts, the teach- 
ings of nature were unperverted by maxims of war, 
or that selfish jealousy, which dignifies itself with 
the name of patriotism. Blessed be God, that cus- 
tom forbids women to electioneer or fight. May the 
sentiment remain, till war and politics have passed 
away. Had not women and children been kept free 
from their polluting influence, the medium of com- 
munication between earth and heaven would have 
been completely cut off. 

At the foot of the eminence where the gallows had 
been erected, we found an old Dutch farm-house, oc- 
cupied by a man who witnessed the execution, and 
whose father often sold peaches to the unhappy pris- 
oner. He confirmed the accounts of Andre's uncom- 
mon personal beauty ; and had a vivid remembrance 
of the pale, but calm, heroism with which he met his 
untimely death. Everything about this dwelling was 
antiquated. Two prim pictures of George III. and 
his homely queen, taken at the period when we owed 
allegiance to them, as ' the government ordained of 
God,' marked plainly the progress of Art since that 
period ; for the portraits of V ictoria on our cotton- 
spools, are graceful in comparison. An ancient clock, 
which has ticked uninterrupted good time on the same 
ground for more than a hundred years, stood in one 
corner of the little parlour. It was brought from the 
East Indies, by an old Dutch sea captain, great grand- 
father of the present owner. In those nations, where 
opinions are transmitted unchanged, the outward 
forms and symbols of thought remain so likewise. 
The gilded figures, which entirely cover the body of 
this old clock, are precisely the same, in perspective, 
outline, and expression, as East India figures of the 
present day. 
15* 



174 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

My observations, as a traveller, are limited to a 
very small portion of the new world ; and therefore, 
it has never been my lot to visit scenes so decidedly 
bearing the impress of former days, as this Dutch 
county. 

' Life, on a soil inhabited in olden time, and once 
glorious in its industry, activity, and attachment to 
noble pursuits, has a peculiar charm,' says Novalis. 
' Nature seems to have become there more human, 
more rational ; a dim remembrance throws back, 
through the transparent present, the images of the 
world in marked outline ; and thus you enjoy a two- 
fold world, purged by this very process from the rude 
and disagreeable, and made the magic poetry and fa- 
ble of the mind. Who knows whether also an inde- 
finable influence of the former inhabitants, now de- 
parted, does not conspire to this end V 

The solemn impression, so eloquently described by 
Novalis, is what I have desired above all things to 
experience ; but the times seen through ' the transpa- 
rent present' of these thatched farm-houses, and that 
red Dutch church, are not far enough in the distance ; 
far removed from us, it is true ; but still farther from 
mitred priest, crusading knight, and graceful trouba- 
dour. ' An indefinable influence of the former inhab- 
itants,' is indeed most visible ; but then it needs no 
ghost to tell us that these inhabitants were thorougly 
Dutch. Since the New York and Erie railroad passed 
through their midst, careful observers say, that the 
surface of the stagnant social pool begins to ripple, 
in very small whirlpools, as if an insect stirred the 
waters. But before that period, a century produced 
no visible change in theology, agriculture, dress, or 
cooking. They were the very type of conservatism ; 
immoveable in the midst of incessant change. The 
same family live on the same homestead, generation 
after generation. Brothers married, and came home 
to father's to live, so long as the old house would 
contain wives and swarming children ; and when 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 175 

house and barn were both overrun, a new tenement, 
of the self-same construction, was put up, within 
stone's throw. To sell an acre of land received from 
their fathers, would be downright desecration. It is 
now literally impossible for a stranger to buy of them 
at any price. A mother might be coaxed to sell her 
babies, as easily as they to sell their farms. Consid- 
er what consternation such a people must have been 
in, when informed that the New York and Erie rail- 
road was to be cut straight through their beloved, 
hereditary acres ! They swore, by ' donner and blit- 
zen,' that not a rail should ever be laid on their prem- 
ises. The rail road company, however, by aid of 
chancery, compelled them to acquiesce ; and their 
grief was really pitiful to behold. Neighbours went 
to each others' 'stoops,' to spend a social evening ; 
and, as their wont had ever been, they sat and smoked 
at each other, without the unprofitable interruption 
of a single word of conversation ; but not according 
to custom, they now grasped each other's hands tight- 
ly at parting, and tears rolled down their weather- 
beaten cheeks. The iron of the rail road had entered 
their souls. And well it might ; for it not only divi- 
ded orchards, pastures, and gardens ; but, in many 
instances, cut right through the old homesteads. 
Clocks that didn't know how to tick, except on the 
sinking floor where they had stood for years, were 
now removed to other premises, and went mute with 
sorrow. Heavy old tables, that hadn't stirred one of 
their countless legs for half a century, were now com- 
pelled to budge : and potatoes, whose grandfathers 
and great grandfathers had slept together in the same 
bed, were now removed beyond nodding distance. 
Joking apart, it was a cruel case. The women and 
children wept, and some of the old settlers actually 
died of a broken heart. Several years have elapsed 
since the fire king first went whizzing through on his 
wings of steam ; but the Dutch farmers have not yet 
learned to look on him without a muttered curse: 



176 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

with fear and trembling, they guide their sleek hor- 
ses and slow-and-sure wagons over the crossings, ex- 
pecting, every instant, to be reduced to impalpable 
powder. 

Poor old men ! what will they say when railroads 
are carried through all their old seed-fields of opin- 
ion, theological and political 1 As yet, there are no 
twilight fore-shadowings of such possibilities ; but 
assuredly, the day will come, when ideas, like pota- 
toes, will not be allowed to sprout up peaceably in 
the same hillock where their venerable progenitors 
vegetated from time immemorial. 

As yet, no rival spires here point to the same heav- 
en. There stands the Dutch Reformed Church, with 
its red body, and low white tower, just where stood 
the small stone church, in which Major Andre was 
tried and sentenced. The modern church (I mean 
the building) is larger than the one of olden time ; 
but creed and customs, somewhat of the sternest, 
have not changed one hair's breadth. I thought of 
this, as I looked at the unsightly edifice ; and sud- 
denly there rose up before me the image of some of 
our modern disturbers, stalking in among these wor- 
shipping antediluvians, and pricking their ears with 
the astounding intelligence, that they were ' a den of 
thieves,' and a 'hill of heli. ; 'Tis a misfortune to 
have an imagination too vivid. I cannot think of 
that red Dutch church, without a crowd of images 
that make me laugh till the tears come. 

Not far from the church is a small stone building, 
used as a tavern. Here they showed me the identi- 
cal room where Andre was imprisoned. With the 
exception of new plastering, it remains the same as 
then. It is long, low, and narrow, and being with- 
out furniture or fireplace, it still has rather a jail-like 
look. I was sorry for the new plastering : for I hoped 
to find some record of prison thoughts cut in the 
walls. Two doves were cuddled together on a bench 
in one corner, and looked in somewhat melancholy 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 177 

mood. These mates were all alone in that silent 
apartment, where Andre shed bitter tears over the 
miniature of his beloved. Alas for mated human 
hearts ! This world is too often for them a pilgrim- 
age of sorrow. 

The miniature, which Andre made such strong ef- 
forts to preserve, when everything else was taken 
from him, and which he carried next his heart till 
the last fatal moment, is generally supposed to have 
been a likeness of the beautiful, graceful, and highly- 
gifted Honora Sneyd, who married Richard Lovel 
Edgeworth, and thus became step-mother to the cel- 
ebrated Maria Edgeworth. A strong youthful attach- 
ment existed between her and Major Andre ; but for 
some reason or other they separated. He entered the 
army, and died the death of a felon. Was he a fel- 
on ? No. He was generous, kind, and brave. His 
noble nature was perverted by the maxims of war ; 
but the act he committed for the British army was 
what an American officer would have gloried in do- 
ing for his own. Washington employed spies ; nor 
is it probable that he, or any other military comman- 
der, would have hesitated to become one, if by so do- 
ing he could get the enemy completely into his power. 
It is not therefore a sense of justice, but a wish to 
inspire terror, which leads to the execution of spies. 
War is a game, in which the devil plays at nine-pins 
with the souls of men. 

Early the next morning, we rose before the sun, 
and took a wagon ride, of ten miles, to Rockland 
Lake. The road was exceedingly romantic. On one 
side, high, precipitous hills, covered with luxuriant 
foliage, or rising in perpendicular masses of stone, 
singularly like the facade of some ruined castle ; on 
the other side, almost near enough to dip our hands 
in its waters, flowed the broad Hudson, with a line 
of glittering light along its edge, announcing the com- 
ing sun. Our path lay straight over the high hills, 
full of rolling stones, and innumerable elbows ; for it 



178 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

went round about to avoid every rock, as a good, old- 
fashioned Dutch path should, in prophetic contempt 
of railroads. But all around was verdure, abundance, 
and beauty ; and we could have been well content to 
wind round and round among those picturesque hills, 
like Peter Rugg, in his everlasting ride, had not the 
advancing sun given premonitory symptoms of the 
fiercest heat. We plainly saw that he was pulling 
the corn up by the hair of its head, and making the 
grass grow with a forty horse power. At last, the 
lake itself opened upon us, with whole troops of lilies. 
This pure sheet, of water, more than a mile long, is 
inclosed by a most graceful sweep of hills, verdant 
with foliage, and dotted with golden grain. It is as 
beautiful a scene as my eye ever rested on. ' A piece 
of heaven let fall to earth.' At the farm where we 
lodged, a summer house was placed on a verdant 
curve, which swelled out into the lake, as if a breeze 
had floated it there in play. There I sat all day 
long, too happy to talk. Never did I thus throw my- 
self on the bosom of Nature, as it were on the heart 
of my dearest friend. The cool rippling of the wa- 
ter, the whirring of a humming-bird, and the happy 
notes of some little warbler, tending her nest directly 
over our heads, was all that broke silence in that 
most beautiful temple. 

After a while, our landlord came among us. He 
had been a sailor, soldier, Indian doctor, and farmer ; 
but the incidents of his changing life had for him no 
deeper significance than the accumulation of money. 

I sighed, that man alone should be at discord with 
the harmony of nature. But the bird again piped a 
welcome to her young ; and no other false note in- 
truded on the universal hymn of earth, and air, and 
sky. 

At twilight, we took boat, and went paddling about 
among the shadows of the green hills. I wept when 
I gave a farewell look to Rockland Lake ; for I had 
no hope that I should ever again see her lovely face, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 179 

or listen to her friendly voice : and none but Him, 
who speaks through Nature, can ever know what 
heavenly things she whispered in my ear, that happy 
summer's day. 



LETTER XXVI. 

September 1, 1842. 

From childhood, I have had a most absorbing pas- 
sion for flowers. What unheard-of quantities of 
moss and violets have I trailed from their shady 
birthplace, to some little nook, which fate allowed 
me, for the time being, to call my home ! And then, 
how I have pitied the poor things, and feared they 
would not be so happy, as if I had left them alone. 
Yet flowers ever seemed to thrive with me, as if they 
knew I loved them. Perchance they did ; for invi- 
sible radii, inaudible language, go forth from the 
souls of all things. Nature ever sees and hears it ; 
as man would, were it not for his self -listening'. 

The flowers have spoken to me more than I can 
tell in written words. They are the hieroglyphics 
of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of the char- 
acter, though few can decypher even fragments of 
their meaning. Minerals, flowers, and birds, among 
a thousand other tri-une ideas, ever speak to me of 
the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Past, 
like minerals, with their fixed forms of gorgeous but 
unchanging beauty ; the Present, like flowers, grow- 
ing and ever changing — bud, blossom, and seed- 
vessel, — seed, bud, and blossom, in endless progres- 
sion ; the Future, like birds, with winged aspirations, 
and a voice that sings into the clouds. Not separate 
are past, present, and future ; but one evolved from 
the other, like the continuous, ever-rising line of the 
spiral ; and not separate are minerals, vegetables, 
and animals. The same soul pervades them all ; 



180 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

they are but higher and higher types of the self-same 
Ideas ; spirally they rise, one out of the other. 
Strike away one curve in the great growth of the 
universe, and the stars themselves would fall. Some 
glimpses of these arcana were revealed to the an- 
cients ; hence the spiral line occurs frequently among 
the sacred and mysterious emblems in their temples. 

There is an astronomical theory that this earth, by 
a succession of spiral movements, is changing its po- 
sition, until its poles will be brought into harmonious 
relation with the poles of the heavens ; then sunshine 
will equally overspread the globe, and Spring become 
perpetual. I know not whether this theory be cor- 
rect ; but I think it is — for reasons not at all allied 
with astronomical knowledge. If the millenium, so 
long prophesied, ever comes, if the lion and the lamb 
ever lie down together within the souls of men, the 
outward world must likewise come into divine order, 
and the poles of the earth will harmonize with the 
poles of the heavens ; then shall universal Spring 
reign without, the emblem and offspring of universal 
Peace within. 

Everywhere in creation, we find visible types of 
these ascending series. Everything is interlinked ; 
each reaches one hand upward and one downward, 
and touching palms, each is interclasped with all 
above and all below. Plainly is this truth written 
on the human soul, both in its individual and uni- 
versal progress ; and therefore it is inscribed on all 
material forms. But yesterday, I saw a plant called 
the Crab Cactus, most singularly like the animal 
from which it takes its name. My companion said 
it was ' a strange freak of Nature.' But I knew it 
was no freak. I saw that the cactus and the crab 
meant the same thing — one on a higher plane than 
the other. The singular plant was the point where 
fish and vegetable touched palms ; where the ascend- 
ing spiral circles passed into each other. There is 
another Cactus that resembles the Sea Urchin ; and 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 181 

another, like the Star-fish. In fact they all seem 
allied to the crustaceous tribe of animals ; and from 
the idea, which this embodies, sprung the fancy that 
fairies of the earth sometimes formed strange union 
with merrows of the sea. Every fancy, the wildest 
and the strangest, is somewhere in the universe of 
God, a fact. 

Another indication of interlinking series is found 
in the zoophytes, the strangest of all links between 
the vegetable and animal world ; sometimes growing 
from a stem like a plant, and radiating like a blos- 
som, yet devouring insects and digesting them, like 
an animal. Behold minerals in their dark mines ! 
how they strive toward effloresence, in picturesque 
imitation of foliage and tendrils, and roots, and tang- 
led vines. Such minerals are approaching the circle 
of creation that lies above them, and from which 
they receive their life ; mineral and vegetable here 
touch palms, and pass the electric fluid that pervades 
all life. 

As the approach of different planes in existence is 
indicated in forms, so is it in character and uses. 
Among minerals, the magnet points ever to the 
North ; so is there a plant in the prairies, called by 
travellers the Polar Plant, or Indian Compass, be- 
cause the plane of its leaf points due North and 
South, without other variation than the temporary 
ruffling of the breeze. 

If these secrets were clearly read, they might 
throw much light on the science of healing, and per- 
haps reconcile the clashing claims of mineral and 
vegetable medicines. Doubtless every substance in 
Nature is an antidote to some physical evil ; owing 
to some spiritual cause, as fixed as the laws of math- 
ematics, but not as easily perceived. The toad, 
when bitten by a spider, goes to the plantain leaf, 
and is cured ; the bird, when stung by the yellow 
serpent, flies to the guaco plant, and is healed. If 
16 



182 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

we knew what spiritual evil was represented by the 
spider's poison, and what spiritual good by the plant- 
ain leaf, we should probably see the mystery reveal- 
ed. Good always overcomes the evil, which is its 
perverted form ; thus love casteth out hatred, truth 
overcomes falsehood, and suspicion cannot live be- 
fore perfect frankness. Always and everywhere is 
evil overcome with good ; and because it is so in the 
soul of man, it is and must be so in all the laws and 
operations of Nature. 

* There are influences yet unthought, and virtues, and many inventions, 
And uses, above and around, which man hath not yet regarded. 
There be virtues yet unknown in the wasted foliage of the efm, 

In the sun-dried harebell of the downs, and ihe hyacinth drinking in the meadows ; 
In the sycamore's winged fruit, and the facet-cut cones of the cedar; 
And the pansy and bright geranium live not alone for beauty, 
Nor the waxen flower of the arbute, though it dieth in a day ; 
Nor the sculptured crest of the fir, unseen but. by the stars ; 
And the meanest weed of the garden serveth unto many uses ; 
The salt tamarisk, and juicy flag, the freckled arum, and the daisy. 
For every green herb, from the lotus to the darnel, 
Is rich with delicate aids to help incurious man.' 

* There is a final cause for the aromatic gum, that congealeth the moss around a rose ; 
A reason for each blade of grass that reareth its small spire. 

How knowcth discontented man what a train of ills might follow, 

If the lowest menial of nature knew not her secret office? 

In the perfect circle of creation not an atom could be spared, 

From earth's magnetic zone to the bindweed round a hawthorn. 

The briar and the palm have the wages of life, rendering secret service.' 

I did not intend to write thus mystically ; and I 
feel that these are thoughts that should be spoken 
into your private ear, not published to the world. To 
some few they may, perchance, awaken a series of 
aspiring thoughts, till the highest touch the golden 
harps of heaven, and fill the world with celestial 
echoes. But to most they will seem an ambitious 
attempt to write something, which is in fact nothing. 
Be it so. I have spoken in a language which few un- 
derstand, and none can teach or learn. It writes itself 
in sunbeams, on flowers, gems, and an infinity of 
forms. I know it at a glance; but I learned it in no 
school. When I go home and shut the door, it 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 183 

speaks to me, as if it were a voice ; but amid the 
multitude, the sound is hushed. 

This which people call the real world, is not real 
to me ; all its sights seem to me shadows, all its 
sounds echoes. I live at service in it, and sweep 
dead leaves out of paths, and dust mirrors, and do 
errands, as I am bid ; but glad am I when work is 
done, to go home to rest. Then do I enter a golden 
palace, with light let in only from above ; and all 
forms of beauty are on the walls, from the seraph be- 
fore God's throne, to the rose-tinted shell on the sea- 
shore. 

I strove not to speak in mysticism ; and lo, here I 
am, as the Germans would say, ' up in the blue ' 
again. I know not how it is, my thoughts to-day 
are like birds of paradise ; they have no feet, and 
will not light on earth. 

I began to write about flowers with the utmost 
simplicity ; not meaning to twine of them a spiral 
ladder of garlands from earth to heaven. The whole 
fabric arose from my looking into the blue eyes of 
my German Forget-me-not, which seems so much 
like a babe just wakening from a pleasant dream. 
Then my heart blessed flowers from its inmost 
depths. I thought of the beautiful story of the Ital- 
ian child laid on the bed of death with a wreath 
among his golden ringlets, and a bouquet in his little 
cold hand. They had decked him thus for the an- 
gels ; but when they went to place him in his coffin, 
lo, the little cherub was sitting up playing with the 
flowers. 

How the universal heart of man blesses flowers ! 
They are wreathed round the cradle, the marriage 
altar, and the tomb. The Persian in the far East, 
delights in their perfume, and writes his love in 
nosegays ; while the Indian child of the far west 
clasps his hands with glee, as he gathers the abun- 
dant blossoms — the illuminated scripture of the prai- 
ries. The Cupid of the ancient Hindoos tipped his 



184 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

arrows with flowers, and orange buds are the bridal 
crown with us, a nation of yesterday. Flowers gar- 
landed the Grecian altar, and they hang in votive 
wreaths before the Christian shrine. 

All these are appropriate uses. Flowers should 
deck the brow of the youthful bride, for they are in 
themselves a lovely type of marriage. They should 
twine round the tomb, for their perpetually renewed 
beauty is a symbol of the resurrection. They should 
festoon the altar, for their fragrance and their beauty 
ascend in perpetual worship before the Most High. 



LETTER XXVII. 

September 8, 1842. 

It is curious to observe by what laws ideas are 
associated ; how, from the tiniest seed of thought, 
rises the umbrageous tree, with moss about its foot, 
blossoms on its head, and birds among its branches. 
Reading my last letter, concerning the spiral series 
of the universe, some busy little spirit suggested that 
there should, somewhere in creation, be a flower that 
made music. But I said, do they not all make mel- 
ody ? The Persians write their music in colours ; 
and perchance in the arrangement of flowers, angels 
may perceive songs and anthems. The close rela- 
tionship between light and music has been more or 
less dimly perceived by the human mind every- 
where. The Persian, when he gave to each note a 
colour, probably embodied a greater mystery than 
he understood. The same undefined perception 
makes us talk of the harmony of colours, and the 
tone of a picture ; it led the blind man to say that 
his idea of red was like the sound of a trumpet ; and 
it taught Festus to speak of ' a rainbow of sweet 
sounds.' John S. D wight was inspired with the 
same idea, when he eloquently described music as ' a 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 185 

prophecy of what life is to be ; the rainbow of prom- 
ise, translated out of seeing into hearing? 

But I must not trust myself to trace the beautiful 
analogy between light and music. As I muse upon 
it, it is like an opening between clouds, so transpa- 
rent, and so deep, deep, that it seems as if one could 
see through it beyond the farthest star — if one could 
but gaze long and earnestly enough. 

' Every flower writes music on the air ;' and eve- 
ry tree that grows enshrines a tone within its heart. 
Do you doubt it ? Try the willow and the oak, the 
elm and the poplar, and see whether each has not its 
own peculiar sound, waiting only for the master's 
hand to make them discourse sweet music. One of 
the most remarkable instruments ever invented gives 
proof of this. M. Guzikow was a Polish Jew ; a 
shepherd in the service of a nobleman. From earli- 
est childhood, music seemed to pervade his whole 
being. As he tended his flocks in the loneliness of 
the fields, he was for ever fashioning flutes and reeds 
from the trees that grew around him. He soon ob- 
served that the tone of the flute varied according to 
the wood he used ; by degrees he came to know ev- 
ery tree by its sound ; and the forests stood round 
him a silent oratorio. The skill with which he play- 
ed on his rustic flutes attracted attention. The no- 
bility invited him to their houses, and he became a 
favourite of fortune. Men never grew weary of 
hearing him. But soon it was perceived that he was 
pouring forth the fountains of his life in song. Phy- 
sicians said he must abjure the flute, or die. It was 
a dreadful sacrifice ; for music to him was life. His 
old familiarity with tones of the forest came to his 
aid. He took four round sticks of wood, and bound 
them closely together with bands of straw ; across 
these he arranged numerous pieces of round, smooth 
wood, of different kinds. They were arranged irreg- 
ularly to the eye, though harmoniously to the ear ; 
16* 



186 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK 

for some jutted beyond the straw-bound foundation 
at one end, and some at the other ; in and out, in 
apparent confusion. The whole was lashed together 
with twine, as men would fasten a raft. This was laid 
on a common table, and struck with two small ebony 
sticks. Rude as the instrument appeared, Guzikow 
brought from it such rich and liquid melody, that it 
seemed to take the heart of man on its wings, and 
bear it aloft to the throne of God. They who have 
heard it, describe it as far exceeding even the mirac- 
ulous warblings of Paganini's violin. The emperor 
of Austria heard it, and forthwith took the Polish 
peasant into his own especial service. In some of 
the large cities, he now and then gave a concert, by 
royal permission ; and on such an occasion he was 
heard by a friend of mine at Hamburg. 

The countenance of the musician was very pale 
and haggard, and his large dark eyes wildly expres- 
sive. He covered his head, according to the custom 
of the Jews; but the small cap of black velvet was 
not to be distinguished in colour from the jet black 
hair that fell from under it, and flowed over his 
shoulders in glossy, natural ringlets. He wore the 
costume of his people, an ample robe, that fell about 
him in graceful folds. From head to foot all was 
black, as his own hair and eyes, relieved only by the 
burning brilliancy of a diamond on his breast. The 
butterflies of fashion were of course attracted by the 
unusual and poetic beauty of his appearance ; and 
ringlets a la Guzikow were the order of the day. 

Before this singularly gifted being stood a common 
wooden table, on which reposed his rude-looking in- 
vention. He touched it with the ebony sticks. At 
first you heard a sound as of wood ; the orchestra 
rose higher and higher, till it drowned its voice ; then 
gradually subsiding, the wonderful instrument rose 
above other sounds, clear-warbling, like a nightin- 
gale ; the orchestra rose higher, like the coming of 
the breeze — but above them all, swelled the sweet 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 187 

tones of the magic instrument, rich, liquid, and 
strong, like a sky-lark piercing the heavens ! They 
who heard it listened in delighted wonder, that the 
trees could be made to speak thus under the touch of 
genius. 

There is something pleasant to my imagination in 
the fact that every tree has its own peculiar note, 
and is a performer in the great concert of the uni- 
verse, which for ever rises before the throne of Jeho- 
vah. But when the idea is applied to man, it is 
painful in the extreme. The emperor of Russia is 
said to have an imperial band, in which each man is 
doomed all his life long to sound one note, that he 
may acquire the greatest possible perfection. The 
effect of the whole is said to be admirable ; but noth- 
ing would tempt me to hear this human musical ma- 
chine. A tree is a unit in creation ; though, like 
everything else, it stands in relation to all things. 
But ev r ery human sold represents the universe. There 
is horrible profanation in compelling a living spirit 
to utter but one note. Theological sects strive to do 
this continually ; for they are sects because they 
magnify some one attribute of deity, or see but one 
aspect of the divine government. To me, their frag- 
mentary echoes are most discordant ; but doubtless 
the angels listen to them as a ivhole, and perhaps 
they hear a pleasant chorus. 

Music, whether I listen to it, or try to analyse it, 
ever fills me with thoughts which I cannot express 
— because I cannot sing ; for nothing but music can 
express the emotions to which it gives birth. Lan- 
guage, even the richest flow of metaphor, is too poor 
to do it. That the universe moves to music, I have 
no doubt ; and could I but penetrate this mystery, 
where the finite passes into the infinite, I should surely 
know how the world was created. Pythagoras sup- 
posed that the heavenly bodies, in their motion, pro- 
duced music inaudible to mortal ears. These mo- 
tions he believed conformed to certain fixed laws, 



188 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

that could be stated in numbers, corresponding to the 
numbers which express the harmony of sounds. This 
' music of the spheres ' has been considered an idea 
altogether fanciful ; but the immortal Kepler applied 
the Pythagorean theory of numbers, and musical in- 
tervals, to the distances of the planets; and a long 
time after, Newton discovered and acknowledged the 
importance of the application. Said I not that the 
universe moved to music ? The planets dance be- 
fore Jehovah ; and music is the echo of their mo- 
tions. Surely the ear of Beethoven had listened to 
it, when he wrote those misnamed c waltzes ' of his, 
which, as John S. Dwight says, ' remind us of no 
dance, unless it be the dances of the heavenly sys- 
tems in their sublime career through space.' 

Have you ever seen Retszch's illustration of Schil- 
ler's Song of Bell? If you have, and know how 
to appreciate its speaking gracefulness, its earnest 
depth of life, you are richer than Rotshchild or As- 
tor ; for a vision of beauty is an everlasting inherit- 
ance. Perhaps none but a German, would have 
thus entwined the sound of a bell with the whole of 
human life ; for with them the bell mingles with all 
of mirth, sorrow, and worship. Almost all the Ger- 
man and Belgian towns are provided with chiming 
bells, which play at noon and evening. There was 
such a set of musical bells on the church of St. Nich- 
olas, at Hamburg. The bell-player was a gray- 
headed man, who had for many years rung forth the 
sonorous chimes, that told the hours to the busy 
throng below. When the church was on fire, either 
from infirmity, or want of thought, the old man re- 
mained at his post. In the terrible confusion of the 
blazing city, no one thought of him, till the high 
steeple was seen wreathed with flame. As the throng 
gazed upward, the firm walls of the old church, that 
had stood for ages, began to shake. At that moment 
the bells sounded the well-known German Choral, 
which usually concludes the Protestantservice, ' ]\un 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 189 

danket alle Gott' — ' Now all thank God.' Another 
moment, and there was an awful crash ! The bells, 
which had spoken into the hearts of so many gener- 
ations, went silent for ever. They and the old mu- 
sician sunk together into a fiery grave ; but the echo 
of their chimes goes sounding on through the far 
eternity. 

They have a beautiful custom at Hamburg. At 
ten o'clock in the morning, when men are hurrying 
hither and yon in the great whirlpool of business, 
from the high church tower comes down the sound 
of sacred music, from a large and powerful horn ap- 
propriated to that service. It is as if an angel spake 
from the clouds, reminding them of immortality. 

You have doubtless heard of the mysterious music 
that peals over the bay at West Pascagoula. It has 
for a long time been one of the greatest wonders of 
the Southwest. Multitudes have heard it, rising as 
it were from the water, like the drone of a bagpipe, 
then floating away — away — -away — in the distance 
— soft, plaintive, and fairy-like, as if iEolian harps 
sounded with richer melody through the liquid ele- 
ment ; but none have been able to account for the 
beautiful phenomenon. 

' There are several legends touching these myste- 
ious sounds. One of them relates to the extinction 
of the Pascagoula tribe of Indians ; the remnant of 
which, many years ago, it is said, deliberately en- 
tered the waters of the bay and drowned themselves, 
to escape capture and torture, when attacked by a 
neighbouring formidable tribe. There is another le- 
gend, as well authenticated as traditionary history 
can well be, to the effect, that about one hundred 
years ago, three families of Spaniards, who had pro- 
voked the resentment of the Indians, were beset by 
the savages, and to avoid massacre and pollution, 
marched into the bay, and were drowned — men, 
women and children. Tradition adds, that the Span- 
iards went down to the waters following a drum and 



190 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

pipe, and singing, as enthusiasts are said to do, when 
about to commit self-immolation. Slaves in the neigh- 
bourhood beli#ve that the sounds, which sweep with 
mournful cadence over the bay, are uttered by the 
spirits of those hapless families ; nor will any remon- 
strance against the superstition abate their terror, 
when the wailing is heard.' Formerly, neither threats 
nor blows could induce them to venture out after 
night ; and to this day, it is exceedingly difficult to 
induce one of them to go in a boat alone upon the 
quiet waters of Pascagoula Bay. One of them, be- 
ing asked by a recent traveller what he thought oc- 
casioned that music, replied : 

' Wall, I tinks it's dead folks come back agin ; dat's 
what I does. White people say it's dis ting and dat 
ting; but it's noting, massa, but de ghosts ob people 
wat didn't die nat' rally in dere beds, long time ago 
— Indians or Spaniards, I believes dey was.' 

' But does the music never frighten you V 

{ Wall, it does. Sometimes wen Fse out alone on 
de bay in a skiff, and I hears it about, I always finds 
myself in a perspiration ; and de way I works my 
way home, is of de fastest kind. I declare, de way 
I'se frightened sometimes, is so bad, I doesn't know 
myself.' 

But in these days, few things are allowed to remain 
mysterious. A correspondent of the Baltimore Re- 
publican thus explains the music of the water-spirits : 

' During several of my voyages on the Spanish 
main, in the neighbourhood of Paraguay, and San 
Juan de Nicaragua, from the nature of the coast, we 
were compelled to anchor at a considerable distance 
from the shore ; and every evening, from dark to late 
night, our ears were delighted with iEolian music, 
that could be heard beneath the counter of our schoon- 
er. At first, I thought it was the sea-breeze sweep- 
ing through the strings of my violin, (the bridge of 
which I had inadvertently left standing;) but after 
examination, I found it was not so. I then placed 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 191 

my ear on the rail of the vessel, when I was contin- 
ually charmed with the most heavenly strains that 
ever fell upon my ear. They did not sound as close 
to us, but were sweet, mellow, and aerial ; like the 
soft breathings of a thousand lutes, touched by fin- 
gers of the deep sea-nymphs, at an immense dis- 
tance. 

1 Although I have considerable music ' in my 
soul,' one night I became tired, and determined to 
fish. My luck in half an hour was astonishing : I 
had half filled my bucket with the finest white cat- 
fish I ever saw ; and it being late, and the cook a- 
sleep, and the moon shining, I filled my bucket with 
water, and took fish and all into my cabin for the 
night. 

1 I had not yet fallen asleep, when the same sweet 
notes fell upon my ear ; and getting up, what was 
my surprise to find my ' cat fish' discoursing sweet 
sounds to the sides of my bucket. 

1 I examined them closely, and discovered that 
there was attached to each lower lip an excrescence, 
divided by soft, wiry fibres. By the pressure of the 
upper lip thereon, and by the exhalation and dis- 
charge of breath, a vibration was created, similar to 
that produced by the breath on the tongue of the 
Jew's harp.' 

So you see the Naiads have a band to dance by. 
I should like to have the mocking-bird try his skill 
at imitating this submarine melody. You know the 
Bob-o'-link with his inimitable strain of ' linked 
sweetness, long drawn out V At a farm-house occu- 
pied by my father-in-law, one of these rich warblers 
came and seated himself on a rail near the window, 
and began to sing. A cat-bird, (our New England 
mocking-bird) perched near, and began to imitate the 
notes. The short, quick, 'bob-o'-link,' 'bob-o'-link,' 
he could master very well ; but when it came to the 
prolonged trill of gushing melody, at the close of the 
strain — the imitator stopped in the midst Again the 



192 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

bob-'o-link poured forth his soul in song ; the mocl- 
ing-bird hopped nearer, and listened most intently. 
Again he tried ; but it was all in vain. The bob-o'- 
link, as if conscious that none could imitate his God- 
given tune, sent forth a clearer, stronger, richer 
strain than ever. The mocking-bird evidently felt 
that his reputation was at stake. He warbled all 
kinds of notes in quick succession. You would have 
thought the house was surrounded by robins, spar- 
rows, whippowills, black-birds, and linnets. Hav- 
ing shown off his accomplishments, he again tried 
his powers on the altogether inimitable trill. The 
effort he made was prodigious ; but it was mere tal- 
ent trying to copy genius. He couldn't do it. He 
stopped, gasping, in the midst of the prolonged mel- 
ody, and flew away abruptly, in evident vexation. 

Music, like every thing else, is now passing from 
the few to the many. The art of printing has laid 
before the multitude the written wisdom of ages, 
once locked up in the elaborate manuscripts of the 
cloister. Engraving and daguerreotype spread the 
productions of the pencil before the whole people. 
Music is taught in our common schools, and the 
cheap accordion brings its delights to the humblest 
class of citizens. All these things are full of prophe- 
cy. Slowly, slowly, to the measured sound of the 
spirit's music, there goes round the world the golden 
band of brotherhood ; slowly, slowly, the earth 
comes to its place, and makes a chord with heaven. 

Sing on, thou true-hearted, and be not discoura- 
ged ! If a harp be in perfect tune, and a flute, or 
other instrument of music be near it. and in perfect 
tune also, thou canst not play on one without wa- 
kening an answer from the other. Behold, thou 
shalt hear its sweet echo in the air, as if played on 
by the invisible. Even so shall other spirits vibrate 
to the harmony of thine. Utter what God giveth 
thee to say. In the sunny West Indies, in gay and 
graceful Paris, in frozen Iceland, and the deep still- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 193 

ness of the Hindoo jingle, thou wilt wake a slumber- 
ing echo, to be carried on for ever through the uni- 
verse. In word and act sing thou 6f united truth 
and love ■ another voice shall take up the strain 
over the waters ; soon it will become a world con- 
cert ; — and thou above there, in that realm of light 
and love, well pleased wilt hear thy early song, in 
earth's sweet vibration to the harps of heaven. 



LETTER XXVIII. 

September 29, 1842. 

I wish I could walk abroad without having mis- 
ery forced on my notice, which I have no power to 
relieve. The other day I looked out of my window, 
and saw a tall, gaunt-looking woman leading a little 
ragged girl, of five or six years old. The child car- 
ried a dirty little basket, and I observed that she 
went up to every door, and stood on tiptoe to reach 
the bell. From every one, as she held up her lit- 
tle basket, she turned away, and came down the 
steps so wearily, and looked so sad — so very sad. 
I saw this repeated at four or five doors, and my 
heart began to swell within me. ' I cannot endure 
this,' thought I : c I must buy whatever her basket 
contains.' Then prudence answered, ' Where's the 
use ? Don't you meet twenty objects more wretch- 
ed every day 1 Where can you stop V I moved 
from my window ; but as I did so, I saw my guar- 
dian angel turn away in sorrow. I felt that neither 
incense nor anthem would rise before God from that 
selfish second thought. I went to the door. Anoth- 
er group of suffering wretches were coming from the 
other end of the street ; and I turned away again 
with the feeling that there was no use in attending 
17 



194 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

to the hopeless mass of misery around me. I should 
have closed the door, perhaps, but as the little girl 
came near, I saw on her neck a cross, with a rudely 
carved image of the crucified Saviour. Oh, blessed 
Jesus ! friend of the poor, the suffering, and the 
guilty, who is like thee to guide the erring soul, and 
soften the selfish heart ? The tears gushed to my 
eyes. I bought from the little basket a store of 
matches for a year. The woman offered me change ; 
but I could not take it in sight of that cross. ' In 
4he Saviours name, take it all,' I said, ' and buy 
clothes for that little one.' A gleam lighted up the 
woman's hard features ; she looked surprised and 
grateful. But the child grabbed at the money, w T ith 
a hungry avarice, that made my very heart ache. 
Hardship, privation, and perchance severity, had 
changed the genial heart-warmth, the gladsome 
thoughtlessness of childhood, into the grasping sen- 
suality of a world-trodden soul. It seemed to me 
the saddest thing, that in all God's creation there 
should be one such little child. I almost feared they 
had driven the angels away from her. Rut it is not 
so. Her angel, too, does always stand before the 
face of her Father, who is in Heaven. 

This time I yielded to the melting of my heart ; 
but a hundred times a week, I drive back the gener- 
ous impulse, because I have not the means to gratify 
it. This is the misery of a city like New York, that 
a kindly spirit not only suffers continual pain, but is 
obliged to do itself perpetual wrong. At times, I al- 
most fancy I can feel myself turning to stone by in- 
ches. Gladly, oh, how gladly, do I hail any little 
sunbeam of love, that breaks through this cloud of 
misery and wrong. 

The other day, as I came down Broome-street, I 
saw a street musician, playing near the door of a 
genteel dwelling. The organ was uncommonly sweet 
and mellow in its tones, the tunes were slow and 
plaintive, and I fancied that I saw in the woman's 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK, 195 

Italiari face an expression that indicated sufficient re- 
finement to prefer the tender and the melancholy, to 
the lively ' trainer tunes' in vogue with the populace. 
She looked like one who had suffered much, and 
the sorrowful music seemed her own appropriate 
voice. A little girl clung to her scanty garments, as 
if afraid of all things but her mother. As I looked 
at them, a young lady of pleasing countenance open,-" 
ed the window, and began to sing like a bird, il£' 
keeping with the street organ. Two other young- 
girls came and leaned on her shoulder ; and still she 
sang on. Blessings on her gentle heart ! It was ev- 
idently the spontaneous gush of human love and 
sympathy. The beauty of the incident attracted at- 
tention. A group of gentlemen gradually collected 
round the organist; and ever as the tune ended, they 
bowed respectfully toward the window, waved their 
hats, and called out, ' More, if you please !' One, 
whom I knew well for the kindest and truest soul, pass- 
ed round his hat; hearts were kindled, and the silver 
fell in freely. In a minute, four or five dollars were 
collected for the poor woman. She spoke no word 
of gratitude, but she gave such a look ! ' Will you 
go to the next street, and play to a friend of mine V 
said my kind-hearted friend . She answered, in tones 
expressing the deepest emotion, ' No, sir, God bless 
you all — God bless you #//,' (making a courtesy to 
the young lady, who had stept back, and stood shel- 
tered by the curtain of the window,) ' I will play 
no more to-day ; I will go home, now.' The tears 
trickled down her cheeks, and, as she walked away, 
she ever and anon wiped her eyes with the corner of 
her shawl. The group of gentlemen lingered a mo- 
ment to look after her, then turning toward the now 
closed window, they gave three enthusiastic cheers, 
and departed, better than they came. The pave- 
ment on which they stood had been a church to 
them ; and for the next hour, at least, their hearts 
were more than usually prepared for deeds of gen- 



196 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK 

tleness and mercy. Why are such scenes so uncom- 
mon ! Why do we thus repress our sympathies, 
and chill the genial current of nature, by formal ob- 
servances and restraints 1 

I thank my heavenly Father for every manifesta- 
tion of human love. I thank him for all experien- 
ces, be they sweet or bitter, which help me to for- 
give all things, and to enfold the whole world with 
blessing. ' What shall be our reward,' says Swe- 
denborg, ' for loving our neighbour as ourselves in 
this life ? That when we become angels, we shall 
be enabled to love him better than ourselves.' This 
is a reward pure and holy ; the only one, which my 
heart has not rejected, whenever offered as an in- 
citement to goodness. It is this chiefly which 
makes the happiness of lovers more nearly allied to 
heaven, than any other emotions experienced by the 
human heart. Each loves the other better than him- 
self ; each is willing to sacrifice all to the other — 
nay, finds joy therein. This it is that surrounds 
them with a golden atmosphere, and tinges the world 
with rose-colour. A mother's love has the same an- 
gelic character: more completely unselfish, but lack- 
ing the criarm of perfect reciprocity. 

The cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares, the 
sorrows, and the crimes of humanity, all lie in that 
one word, love. It is the divine vitality that every- 
where produces and restores life. To each and ev- 
ery one of us it gives the power of working miracles, 
if we will. 

' Love is the story without an end, that angels throng to hear ; 
The word, the king of words, carved on Jehovah's heart.' 

From the highest to the lowest, all feel its influ- 
ence, all acknowledge its sway. Even the poor, 
despised donkey is changed by its magic influence. 
When coerced and beaten, he is vicious, obstinate, 
and stupid. With the peasantry of Spain, he is a 
petted favourite, almost an inmate of the household. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK, 197 

The children bid him welcome home, and the wife 
feeds him from her hands. He knows them all, and 
he loves them all, for he feels in his inmost heart 
that they all love him. He will follow his master, 
and come and go at his bidding, like a faithful dog ; 
and he delights to take the baby on his back, and 
walk him round, gently, on the greensward. His 
intellect expands, too, in the sunshine of affection* 
and he that is called the stupidest of animals be- 
comes sagacious. A Spanish peasant had for many 
years carried milk into Madrid to supply a set of 
customers. Every morning, he and his donkey, 
with loaded panniers, trudged the well-known round. 
At last, the peasant became very ill, and had no one 
to send to market. His wife proposed to send the 
faithful old animal by himself. The panniers were 
accordingly filled with cannisters of milk, an in- 
scription, written by the priest, requested customers 
to measure their own milk, and return the vessels ; 
and the donkey was instructed to set off with his 
load. He went, and returned in due time with emp- 
ty cannisters ; and this he continued to dp for several 
days. The house bells in Madrid are usually so con- 
structed that you pull downward to make them ring. 
The peasant afterward learned that his sagacious 
animal stopped before the door of every customer, 
and after waiting what he deemed a sufficient time, 
pulled the bell with his mouth. If affectionate treat- 
ment will thus idealize the jackass, what may it not 
do ? Assuredly there is no limit to its power. It 
can banish crime, and make this earth an Eden. 

The best tamer of colts that was ever known in 
Massachusetts, never allowed whip or spur to be 
used ; and the horses he trained never needed the 
whip. Their spirits were unbroken by severity, and 
they obeyed the slightest impulse of the voice or 
rein, with the most animated promptitude : but ren- 
dered obedient to affection, their vivacity was al- 
17* 



198 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ways restrained by graceful docility. He said it 
was with horses as with children ; if accustomed to 
beating, they would not obey without it. But if 
managed with untiring gentleness, united with con- 
sistent and very equable firmness, the victory once 
gained over them, was gained for ever. 

In the face of all these facts, the world goes on 
manufacturing whips, spurs, the gallows, and chains ; 
while each one carries within his own soul a divine 
substitute for these devil's inventions, with which he 
might work miracles, inward and outward, if he 
would. Unto this end let us work with unfaltering 
faith. Great is the strength of an individual soul 7 
true to its high trust ; — mighty is it even to the re- 
demption of a world. 

A German, whose sense of sound was exceedingly 
acute, was passing by a church, a day or two after 
he had landed in this country, and the sound of mu- 
sic attracted him to enter, though he had no knowl- 
edge of our language. The music proved to be a 
piece of nasal psalmody, sung in most discordant 
fashion ; an^the sensitive German would fain have 
covered his ears. As this was scarcely civil, and 
might appear like insanity, his next impulse was to 
rush into the open air, and leave the hated sounds 
behind him. ' But this too I feared to do,' said he, 
' lest offence might be given; so I resolved to endure 
the torture with the best fortitude I could assume ; 
when lo ! I distinguished amid the din, the soft 
clear voice of a woman singing in perfect tune. She 
made no effort to drown the voices of her compan- 
ions, neither was she disturbed by their noisy dis- 
cord ; but patiently and sweetly she sang in full, 
rich tones : one after another yielded to the gentle 
influence ; and before the tune was finished, all were 
in perfect harmony.' 

I have often thought of this story as conveying an 
instructive lesson for reformers. The spirit that can 
thus sing patiently and sweetly in a world of 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 199 

discord, must indeed be of the strongest, as well as 
the gentlest kind. One scarce can hear his own soft 
voice amid the braying of the multitude ; and ever 
and anon comes the temptation to sing louder than 
they, and drown the voices that cannot thus be 
forced into perfect tune. But this were a pitiful ex- 
periment ; the melodious tones, cracked into shrill- 
ness, would only increase the tumult. 

Stronger, and more frequently, comes the tempta- 
tion to stop singing, and let discord do its own wild 
work. But blessed are they that endure to the end 
— singing patiently and sweetly, till all join in with 
loving acquiescence, and universal harmony pre- 
vails, without forcing into submission the free dis- 
cord of a single voice. 

This is the hardest and the bravest task, which a 
true soul has to perform amid the clashing elements 
of time. But once has it been done perfectly, unto 
the end ; and that voice, so clear in its meekness, is 
heard above all the din of a tumultuous world ; one 
after another chimes in with its patient sweetness, 
and, through infinite discords, the listening soul can 
perceive that the great tune is slowly coming into 
harmony. 



LETTER XXIX. 

October G, 1842. 

I went last week to Black well's Island, in the 
East River, between the city and Long Island. The 
environs of the city are unusually beautiful, consid- 
ering how far Autumn has advanced upon us. Fre- 
quent rains have coaxed vegetation into abundance, 
and preserved it in verdant beauty. The trees are 
hung with a profusion of vines, the rocks are dressed 
in nature's green velvet of moss, and from every lit- 
tle cleft peeps the rich foliage of some wind-scattered 



200 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

seed. The island itself presents a quiet loveliness of 
scenery, unsurpassed by anything I have ever wit- 
nessed ; though Nature and I are old friends, and she 
has shown me many of her choicest pictures, in a 
light let in only from above. No form of graceful- 
ness can compare with the bend of flowing waters 
all round and round a verdant island. The circle 
typifies Love ; and they who read the spiritual al- 
phabet, will see that a circle of waters must needs be 
very beautiful. Beautiful it is, even when the lan- 
guage it speaks is an unknown tongue. Then the 
green hills beyond look so very pleasant in the sun- 
shine, with homes nestling among them, like dimples 
on a smiling face. The island itself abounds with 
charming nooks — open wells in shady places, screened 
by large weeping willows; gardens and arbors run- 
ning down to the river's edge, to look at themselves 
in the waters ; and pretty boats, like white-winged 
birds, chased by their shadows, and breaking the 
waves into gems. 

But man has profaned this charming retreat. He 
has brought the screech-owl, the bat, and the vul- 
ture, into the holy temple of Nature. The island be- 
longs to government ; and the only buildings on it 
are penitentiary, mad-house, and hospital ; with a 
few dwellings occupied by people connected with 
those institutions. The discord between man and na- 
ture never before struck me so painfully ; yet it is 
wise and kind to place the erring and the diseased in 
the midst of such calm, bright influences. Man may 
curse, but Nature for ever blesses. The guiltiest of 
her wandering children she would fain enfold within 
her arms to the friendly heart-warmth of a mother's 
bosom. She speaks to them ever in the soft, low 
tones of earnest love ; but they, alas, tossed on the 
roaring, stunning surge of society, forget the quiet 
language. 

As I looked up at the massive walls of the prison, 
it did my heart good to see doves nestling within the 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 201 

shelter of the deep, narrow, grated windows. I 
thought what blessed little messengers of heaven they 
would appear to me, if I were in prison ; but instant- 
ly a shadow passed over the sunshine of my thought. 
Alas, doves do not speak to their souls, as they would 
to mine ; for they have lost their love for child-like, 
and gentle things. How have they lost it? Society 
with its unequal distribution, its perverted education, 
its manifold injustice, its cold neglect, its biting mock- 
ery, has taken from them the gifts of God. They 
are placed here, in the midst of green hills, and flow- 
ing streams, and cooing doves, after the heart is pet- 
rified against the genial influence of all such sights 
and sounds. 

As usual, the organ of justice (which phrenolo- 
gists say is unusually developed in my head) was 
roused into great activity by the sight of prisoners. 
' Would you have them prey on society?' said one 
of my companions. I answered, * I am troubled that 
society has preyed upon them. I will not enter into 
an argument about the right of society to punish 
these sinners ; but I say she made them sinners. 
How much I have done toward it, by yielding to pop- 
ular prejudices, obeying false customs, and suppres- 
sing vital truths, I know not ; but doubtless I have 
done, and am doing, my share. God forgive me. If 
He dealt with us, as we deal with our brother, who 
could stand before him ? ' 

While I was there, they brought in the editors of 
the Flash, the Libertine, and the Weekly Rake. My 
very soul loathes such polluted publications ; yet a 
sense of justice again made me refractory. These 
men were perhaps trained to such service by all the 
social influences they had ever known. They dared 
to publish what nine-tenths of all around them lived 
unreproved. Why should they be imprisoned, while 
• flourished in the full tide of editorial suc- 
cess, circulating a paper as immoral, and perhaps 
more dangerous, because its indecency is slightly 



202 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

veiled? Why should the Weekly Rake be shut up, 
when daily rakes walk Broadway in fine broadcloth 
and silk velvet'/ 

Many more than half the inmates of the peniten- 
tiary were women: and of course a large proportion 
of them were taken up as 'street-walkers.' The 
men who made them such, who, perchance, caused 
the love of a human heart to be its ruin, and changed 
tenderness into sensuality and crime — these men live 
in the 'ceiled houses' of Broadway, and sit in coun- 
cil in the ('ity Hall, and pass l regulations' to clear 
the streets they have tilled with sin. And do you 
suppose their poor victims do not feel the injustice of 
society thus regulated? Think you they respect the 
laws? Vicious they are, and they may be both ig- 
norant and foolish : but, nevertheless, they are too 
wise to respect snrh laws. Their whole being cries 
out that it is a mockery ; all their experience proves 
that society is a game of chance, where the cunning 
slip through, and the strong leap over. The crimi- 
nal feels this, even when incapable of reasoning up- 
on it. The laws do not secure his reverence, because 
he sees that their operation is unjust. The secrets 
of prisons, so far as they are revealed, all tend to 
show that the prevailing feeling of criminals, of all 
grades, is that they are wronged. \Y hat we call jus- 
tice, they regard as an unlucky chance; and whoso- 
ever looks calmly and wisely into the foundations on 
which society rolls and tumbles, (I cannot say on 
which it rests, for its foundations heave like the sea.) 
will perceive that they are victims of chance. 

For instance, everything in school-hooks, social re- 
marks, domestic conversation, literature, public fes- 
tivals, legislative proceedings, and popular honors, 
all teach the young soul that it is noble to retaliate, 
mean to forgive an insult, and unmanly not to resent 
a wrong. Animal instincts, instead of being brought 
into subjection to the higher powers of the soul, are 
thus cherished into more than natural activity. < >f 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 203 

three men thus educated, one enters the army, kills 
a hundred Indians, hangs their scalps on a tree, is 
made major general, and considered a fitting can- 
didate for the presidency. The second goes to the 
Southwest to reside ; some ' roarer' calls him a ras- 
cal — a phrase not misapplied, perhaps, but necessary 
to be resented ; he agrees to settle the question of 
honour at ten paces, shoots his insulter through the 
heart, and is hailed by society as a brave man. The 
third lives in New York ; a man enters his office, 
and, true, or untrue, calls him a knave. He fights, 
kills his adversary, is tried by the laws of the land, 
and hung. These three men indulged the same pas- 
sion, acted from the same motives, and illustrated 
the same education ; yet how different their fate ! 

With regard to dishonesty, too — the maxims of 
trade, the customs of society, and the general unre- 
flecting tone of public conversation, all tend to pro- 
mote it. The man who has made ' good bargains,' 
is wealthy and honoured ; yet the details of those 
bargains few would dare to pronounce good. Of two 
young men nurtured under such influences, one be- 
comes a successful merchant ; five thousand dollars 
are borrowed of him ; he takes a mortgage on a house 
worth twenty thousand dollars ; in the absence of 
the owner, when sales are very dull, he offers the 
house for sale, to pay his mortgage; he bids it in 
himself, for four thousand dollars; and afterwards 
persecutes and imprisons his debtor for the remain- 
ing thousand. Society calls him a shrewd business 
man, and pronounces his dinners excellent; the chance 
is, he will be a magistrate before he dies. The other 
young man is unsuccessful ; his necessities are great ; 
he borrows some money from his employer's drawer, 
perhaps resolving to restore the same ; the loss is 
discovered before he has a chance to refund it ; and 
society sends him to Blackwell's island, to hammer 
stone with highway robbers. Society made both 
these men thieves ; but punished the one, while she 



204 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

rewarded the other. That criminals so universally 
feel themselves victims of injustice, is one strong 
proof that it is true ; for impressions entirely with- 
out foundation are not apt to become universal. If 
society does make its own criminals, how shall she 
cease to do it 1 It can be done only by a change in 
the structure of society, that will diminish the temp- 
tations to vice, and increase the encouragements to 
virtue. If we can abolish poverty, we shall have ta- 
ken the greatest step towards the abolition of crime ; 
and this will be the final triumph of the gospel of 
Christ. Diversities of gifts will doubtless always 
exist ; for the law written on spirit, as well as mat- 
ter, is infinite variety. But when the kingdom of 
God comes ' on earth as it is in heaven,' there will 
not be found in any corner of it that poverty which 
hardens the heart under the severe pressure of phys- 
ical suffering, and stultifies the intellect with toil for 
mere animal wants. When public opinion regards 
wealth as a means, and not as an end, men will no 
longer deem penitentiaries a necessary evil ; for 
society will then cease to be a great school for crime. 
In the meantime, do penitentiaries and prisons in- 
crease or diminish the evils they are intended to 
remedy ? 

The superintendent at Black well told me, unask- 
ed, that ten years' experience had convinced hini 
that the whole system tended to increase crime. He 
said of the lads who came there, a large proportion 
had already been in the house of refuge ; and a large 
proportion of those who left, afterward went to Sing 
Sing. ' It is as regular a succession as the classes 
in a college,' said he, ' from the house of refuge to 
the penitentiary, and from the penitentiary to the 
State prison.' I remarked that coercion tended to 
rouse all the bad passions in man's nature, and if 
long continued, hardened the whole character. ' I 
know that,' said he, ' from my own experience ; all 
the devil there is in me rises up when a man at- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 205 

tempts to compel me. But what can I do ? I am 
obliged to be very strict. When my feelings tempt 
me to unusual indulgence, a bad use is almost al- 
ways made of it. I see that the system fails to pro- 
duce the effect intended : but I cannot change the 
result.' 

I felt that his words were true. He could not 
change the influence of the system while he dis- 
charged the duties of his office ; for the same reason 
that a man cannot be at once slave-driver and mis- 
sionary on a plantation. I allude to the necessities 
of the office, and do not mean to imply that the char- 
acter of the individual was severe. On the contrary, 
the prisoners seemed to be made as comfortable as 
was compatible with their situation. There were 
watch-towers, with loaded guns, to prevent escape 
from the island ; but they conversed freely with each 
other as they worked in the sunshine, and very few 
of them looked wretched. Among those who were 
sent under guard to row us back to the city, was one 
who jested on his own situation, in a manner which 
showed plainly enough that he looked on the whole 
thing as a game of chance, in which he happened to 
be the loser. Indulgence cannot benefit such char- 
acters. What is wanted is, that no human being 
should grow up without deep and friendly interest 
from the society round him ; and that none should 
feel himself the victim of injustice, because society 
punishes the very sins which it teaches, nay drives 
men to commit. The world would be in a happier 
condition if legislators spent half as much time and 
labour to prevent crime, as they do to punish it. 
The poor need houses of encouragement ; and society 
gives them houses of correction. Benevolent institu- 
tions and reformatory societies perform but a limited 
and temporary use. They do not reach the ground- 
work of evil ; and it is reproduced too rapidly for 
them to keep even the surface healed. The natural 
IS 



206 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

spontaneous influences of society should be such as 
to supply men with healthy motives, and give full, 
free play to the affections, and the faculties. It is 
horrible to see our young men goaded on by the 
fierce, speculating spirit of the age, from the conta- 
gion of which it is almost impossible to escape, and 
then see them tortured into madness, or driven to 
crime, by fluctuating changes of the money-market. 
The young soul is, as it were, entangled in the great 
merciless machine of a falsely-constructed society: the 
steam he had no hand in raising, whirls him hither 
and thither, and it is altogether a lottery-chance 
whether it crushes or propels him. 

Many, who are mourning over the too obvious 
diseases of the world, will smile contemptuously at 
the idea of reconstruction. But let them reflect a 
moment upon the immense changes that have al- 
ready come over society. In the middle ages, both 
noble and peasant would have laughed loud and long 
at the prophecy of such a state of society as now ex- 
ists in the free States of America ; yet here we are ! 

I by no means underrate modern improvements in 
the discipline of prisons, or progressive meliorations 
in the criminal code. I rejoice in these things as 
facts, and still more as prophecy. Strong as my 
faith is that the time will come when war and pris- 
ons will both cease from the face of the earth, 1 am 
by no means blind to the great difficulties in the way 
of those who are honestly striving to make the best 
of things as they are. Violations of right, continued 
generation after generation, and interwoven into the 
whole structure of action and opinion, will continue 
troublesome and injurious, even for a long time after 
they are outwardly removed. Legislators and phi- 
lanthropists may well be puzzled to know what to 
do with those who have become hardened in crime ; 
meanwhile, the highest wisdom should busy itself 
with the more important questions. How did these 
men become criminals ) Are not social influences 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 207 

largely at fault ? If society is the criminal, were it 
not well to reform society ? 

It is common to treat the inmates of penitentiaries 
and prisons as if they were altogether unlike our- 
selves — as if they belonged to another race ; but this 
indicates superficial thought and feeling. The pas- 
sions which carried those men to prison, exist in your 
own bosom, and have been gratified, only in a less 
degree : perchance, if you look inward, with enlight- 
ened self-knowledge, you will perceive that there 
have been periods in your own life when a hair's- 
breadth further in the wrong would have rendered 
you amenable to human laws ; and that you were 
prevented from moving over that hair's-breadth boun- 
dary by outward circumstances, for which you de- 
serve no credit. 

If reflections like these make you think lightly of 
sin, you pervert them to a very bad use. They 
should teach you that every criminal has a human 
heart, which can be reached and softened by the same 
means that will reach and soften your own. In all, 
even the most hardened, love lies folded up, per- 
chance buried ; and the voice of love calls it forth, 
and makes it gleam like living coals through ashes. 
This influence, if applied in season, would assuredly 
prevent the hardness, which it has so much power to 
soften. 

That most tender-spirited and beautiful book, en- 
titled ' My Prisons, by Sylvio Pellico,' abounds with 
incidents to prove the omnipotence of kindness. He 
was a gentle and a noble soul, imprisoned merely for 
reasons of state, being suspected of republican no- 
tions. Robbers and banditti, confined in the same 
building, saluted him with respect as they passed 
him in the court ; and he always returned their sal- 
utations with brotherly cordiality. He says, ' One 
of them once said to me, ' Your greeting, signore, 
does me good. Perhaps you see something in my 
face that is not very bad ? An unhappy passion led 



208 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

me to commit a crime ; but oh, signore, I am not, 
indeed I am not a villain.' And he burst into tears. 
I held out my hand to him, but he could not take it. 
My guards, not from bad feelings, but in obedience 
to orders, repulsed him.' 

In the sight of God, perchance their repulse was 
a heavier crime than that for which the poor fellow 
was imprisoned ; perhaps it made him a l villain,' 
when the genial influence of Sylvio Pellico might 
have restored him a blessing to the human family. 
If these things are so, for what a frightful amount of 
crime are the coercing and repelling influences of so- 
ciety responsible ! 

I have not been happy since that visit to Black- 
well's Island. There is something painful, yea, ter- 
rific, in feeling myself involved in the great wheel of 
society, which goes whirling on, crushing thousands 
at every turn. This relation of the individual to the 
mass is the sternest and most frightful of all the con- 
flicts between necessity and free will. Yet here, too, 
conflict should be harmony, and will be so. Put far 
away from thy soul all desire of retaliation, all an- 
gry thoughts, all disposition to overcome or humiliate 
an adversary, and be assured thou hast done much 
to abolish gallows, chains, and prisons, though thou 
hast never written or spoken a word on the criminal 
code. 

Cod and good angels alone know the vast, the in- 
calculable influence that goes out into the universe of 
spirit, and thence flows into the universe of matter, 
from the conquered evil, and the voiceless prayer, of 
one solitary soul. Wouldst thou bring the world un- 
to God ? Then live near to him thyself. If divine 
life pervade thine own soul, every thing that touches 
thee will receive the electric spark, though thou may- 
est be unconscious of being charged therewith. This 
surely would be the highest, to strive to keep near 
the holy, not for the sake of our own reward here or 
hereafter, but that through love to God we might 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 209 

bless our neighbour. The human soul can perceive 
this, and yet the beauty of the earth is everywhere 
defaced with jails and gibbets ! Angelic natures can 
never deride, else were there loud laughter in heaven 
at the discord between man's perceptions and his 
practice. 

At Long Island Farms I found six hundred chil- 
dren, supported by the public. It gives them whole- 
some food, comfortable clothing, and the common ru- 
diments of education. For this it deserves praise. 
Hut the aliment which the spirit craves, the public 
has not to give. The young heart asks for love, 
yearns for love — but its own echo returns to it through 
empty halls, instead of answer. 

The institution is much lauded by visiters, and not 
without reason ; for every thing looks clean and com- 
fortable, and the children appear happy. The draw- 
backs are such as inevitably belong to their situation, 
as children of the public. The oppressive feeling is, 
that there are no mothers there. Every thing moves 
by machinery, as it always must with masses of chil- 
dren, never subdivided into families. In one place, 
I saw a stack of small wooden guns, and was in- 
formed that the boys were daily drilled to military 
exercises, as a useful means of forming habits of or- 
der, as well as fitting them for the future service of 
the state. Their infant school evolutions partook of 
the same drill character ; and as for their religion, I 
was informed that it was ' beautiful to see them pray ; 
for at the first tip of the whistle, they all dropped on 
their knees. 5 Alas, poor childhood, thus doth 'church 
and state' provide for thee ! The state arms thee 
with wooden guns, to play the future murderer, and 
the church teaches thee to pray in platoons, ' at the 
first tip of the whistle.' Luckily they cannot drive 
the angels from thee, or most assuredly they would 
do it, pro bono publico. 

The sleeping-rooms were clean as a Shaker's 
18* 



210 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

apron. When I saw the long rows of nice little beds, 
ranged side by side, I inquired whether there was 
not a merry buzz in the morning. ' They are not 
permitted to speak at all in the sleeping apartments,' 
replied the superintendent. The answer sent a chill 
through my heart. I acknowledged that in snch 
large establishments the most exact method was nec- 
essary, and I knew that the children had abundant 
opportunity for fun and frolic in the sunshine and the 
open fields, in the after part of the day ; but it is so 
natural for all young things to crow and sing when 
they open their eyes to the morning light, that I could 
not bear to have the cheerful instinct perpetually re- 
pressed. 

The hospital for these children is on the neigh- 
bouring island of Blackwell. This establishment, 
though clean and well supplied with outward com- 
forts, was the most painful sight I ever witnessed. 
About one hundred and fifty children were there, 
mostly orphans, inheriting every variety of disease 
from vicious and sickly parents. In beds all of a 
row, or rolling by dozens over clean matting on the 
floor, the poor little pale, shrivelled, and blinded crea- 
tures were waiting for death to come and release 
them. Here the absence of a mother's love was most 
agonizing ; not even the patience and gentleness of a 
saint could supply its place ; and saints are rarely 
hired by the public. There was a sort of resigna- 
tion expressed in the countenances of some of the 
little ones, which would have been beautiful in raa- 
turer years, but in childhood it spoke mournfully of 
a withered soul. It was pleasant to think that a 
large proportion of them would soon be received by 
the angels, who will doubtless let them sing in the 
morning. 

That the law of Love may cheer and bless even 
public establishments, has been proved by the exam- 
ple of the Society of Friends. They formerly had 
an establishment for their own poor, in the city of 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 211 

Philadelphia, on a plan so simple and so beautiful, 
that one cannot but mourn to think it has given place 
to more common and less brotherly modes of relief. 
A nest of small households enclosed, on three sides, 
an open space devoted to gardens, in which each had 
a .share. Here each poor family lived in separate 
rooms, and were assisted by the Society according to 
its needs. Sometimes a widow could support herself, 
with the exception of rent ; and in that case, merely 
rooms were furnished gratis. An aged couple could 
perhaps subsist very comfortably, if supplied with 
house and fuel ; and the friendly assistance was ac- 
cording to their wants. Some needed entire support ; 
and to such it was ungrudgingly given. These pau- 
pers were oftentimes ministers and elders, took the 
highest seats in the meeting-house, and had as much 
influence as any in the affairs of the Society. Ev- 
erything conspired to make them retain undiminished 
•self-respect. The maimer in which they evinced this 
would be considered impudence in the tenants of our 
modern alms-hoUses. One old lady being supplied 
with a load of wood at her free lodgings, refused to 
take it, saying, that it did not suit her ; she wanted 
dry, small wood. ' But,' remonstrated the man, 'I 
was ordered to bring it here.' ' I can't help that. 
Tell 'em the best wood is the best economy. I do 
not want such wood as that.' Her orders were 
obeyed, and the old lady's wishes were gratified. 
Another, who took great pride and pleasure in the 
neatness of her little garden, employed a carpenter to 
make a trellis for her vines. Some objection was 
made to paying this bill, it being considered a mere 
superfluity. But the old lady maintained that it was 
necessary for her comfort ; and at meetings and all 
public places, she never failed to rebuke the elders. 
' O you profess to do unto others as you would be 
done by, and you have never paid that carpenter his 
bill.' Worn out by her perseverance, they paid the 
bill, and she kept her trellis of vines. It probably 



212 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

was more necessary to her comfort than many things 
they would have considered as not superfluous. 

The poor of this establishment did not feel like 
dependents, and were never regarded as a burden. 
They considered themselves as members of a family, 
receiving from brethren the assistance they would 
have gladly bestowed under a reverse of circumstan- 
ces. This approaches the gospel standard. Since 
the dawn of Christianity, no class of people have fur- 
nished an example so replete with a most wise ten- 
derness, as the Society of Friends, in the days of its 
purity. Thank God, nothing good or true ever dies. 
The lifeless form falls from it, and it lives elsewhere. 



LETTER XXX. 

November 13, 1842. 

Oh, who that has not been shut up in the great 
prison cell of a city, and made to drink of its brack- 
ish springs, can estimate the blessings of the Croton 
Aqueduct I clean, sweet, abundant water ! Well 
might they bring it thirty miles under-ground, and 
usher it into the city with roaring cannon, sonorous 
bells, waving flags, floral canopies, and a loud cho- 
rus of song ! 

I shall never forget my sensations when I first 
looked upon the Fountains. My soul jumped, and 
clapped its hands, rejoicing in exceeding beauty. I 
am a novice, and easily made wild by the play of 
graceful forms ; but those, accustomed to the splen- 
did displays of France and Italy, say the world of- 
fers nothing to equal the magnificence of the New 
York jets. There is such a head of water, that it 
throws the column sixty feet into the air, and drops it 
it into the basin in a shower of diamonds. The one 
in the Park, opposite the Astor house, consists of a 
large central pipe, with eighteen subordinate jets in 
a basin a hundred feet broad. By shifting the plate 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 213 

of the conduit pipe, these fountains can be made to 
assume various shapes : The Maid of the Mist, the 
Croton Plume, the Vase, the Dome, the Bouquet, the 
Sheaf of Wheat, and the Weeping- willow. As the 
sun shone on the sparkling drops, through mist and 
feathery foam, rainbows glimmered at the sides, as 
if they came to celebrate a marriage between Spirits 
of Light and Water Nymphs. 

The fountain in Union Park is smaller, but scarce- 
ly less beautiful. It is a weeping willow of crystal 
drops ; but one can see that it weeps for joy. Now 
it leaps and sports as gracefully as Undine in her 
wildest moods, and then sinks into the vase under a 
veil of woven pearl, like the undulating farewell 
courtesy of her fluid relations. On the evening of 
the great Croton celebration, they illuminated this 
Fountain with coloured fireworks, kindling the cloud 
of mist with many-coloured gems ; as if the Water 
Spirits had had another wedding with Fairies of the 
Diamond Mines. 

I went out to Harlaem, the other day, to see the great 
jet of water, which there rises a hundred feet into 
the air, and falls through a belt of rainbows. Wa- 
ter will rise to its level, as surely as the morality of 
a nation, or a sect, rises to its idea of God. They to 
whom God is the Almighty, rather than the Heaven- 
ly Father, do not understand that the highest ideal 
of Justice is perfect and universal Love. They can- 
not perceive this : for both spiritually and naturally 
water never rises above the level of its source. But 
how sublimely it rushes upward tojindits level ! As 
I gazed in loving wonder on that beautiful column, 
it seemed to me a fitting type of those pure, free spi- 
rits, who, at the smallest opening, spring upward to 
the highest, revealing to all mankind the true level 
of the religious idea of their age. But, alas, here is 
the stern old conflict between Necessity and Free- 
will. The column, by the law of its being, would 
rise quite to the level of its source ; but as the im- 



214 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

pulse, that sent it forth in such glorious majesty, ex- 
pends itself, the lateral pressure overpowers the 
leaping waters, and sends them downward in tears. 

If we had a tube high enough to defend the strug- 
gling water from surrounding pressure, it would rise 
to its level. Will society ever be so constructed as 
to enable us to do this spiritually ? It must be so, 
before ' Holiness to the Lord,' is written on the 
bells of the horses. 

I told my beloved friends, as we stood gazing on 
that magnificent jet of water, that its grandeur and 
its gracefulness revealed much, and promised more. 
They smiled, and reminded me that it was a canon 
of criticism, laid down by Blair, never to liken the 
natural to the spiritual. I have no dispute with 
those who let down an iron-barred portcullis between 
matter and spirit. The winged soul flies over, and 
sees the whole as one fair region, golden with the 
same sunlight, fresh with the same breezes from 
heaven. 

But I must not offer sybilline leaves in the mar- 
ket. Who will buy them ? The question shows 
that my spirit likewise feels the lateral pressure. 
Would I could turn downward as gracefully as the 
waters ! uniting the upward and the downward ten- 
dency in an arch so beautiful, and every drop spark- 
ling as it falls into the common reservoir, whence fu- 
ture fountains shall gush in perpetual beauty. 

I am again violating Blair's injunction. His iron 
gate rolls away like a stage curtain, and lo, the 
whole region of spiritual progress opens in glorious 
perspective ! How shall I get back to the actual, 
and stay there 1 If the doctrine of transmigration 
of souls were true. I should assuredly pass into a 
bird of Paradise, which for ever floats in the air, or 
if it touches the earth for a moment, is impatient to 
soar again. 

Strange material this for a reformer ! And I 
tell you plainly that reforming work lies around 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 215 

me like '• the ring of Necessity,' and ever and anon 
Freewill bites at the circle. But this necessity is 
only another name for conscience ; and that is the 
voice of God. I would not unchain Freewill, if I 
could ; for if I did, the planets would fly out of their 
places ; for they, too, in their far orT splendour, are 
linked with every fragment we perceive of truth and 
duty. 

But there is a false necessity with which we in- 
dustriously surround ourselves ; a circle that never 
expands ; whose iron never changes to ductile gold. 
This is the pressure of public opinion ; the intolera- 
ble restraint of conventional forms. Under this des- 
potic influence, men and women check their best 
impulses, suppress their noblest feelings, conceal 
their highest thoughts. Each longs for full commu- 
nion with other souls, but dares not give utterance 
to its yearnings. What hinders? The fear of what 
Mrs. Smith, or Mrs. Clark, will say ; or the frown 
of some sect ; or the anathema of some synod ; or 
the fashion of some clique ; or the laugh of some 
club ; or the misrepresentation of some political par- 
ty. Oh, thou foolish soul ! Thou art afraid of thy 
neighbour, and knowest not that he is equally afraid 
of thee. He has bound thy hands, and thou hast 
fettered his feet. It were wise for both t, snap the 
imaginary bonds, and walk onward unsh ckled. If 
thy heart yearns for love, be loving ; if thou 
wouldst free mankind, be free ; if thou wouldst 
have a brother frank to thee, be frank to him. 

' Be noble ! and the nobleness that lies 
In other men, sleeping but never dead, 
Will rise in majesty to meet thine own.' 

1 But what will people say V 

Why does it concern thee what they say ? Thy 
life is not in their hands. They can give thee noth- 
ing of real value, nor take from thee anything that is 
worth the having. Satan may promise thee all the 



216 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

kingdoms of the earth, but he has not an acre of it 
to give. He may offer much, as the price of his wor- 
ship, but there is a flaw in all his title deeds. Eter- 
nal and sure is the promise, ' Blessed are the meek, 
for they shall inherit the earth.' Only have faith in 
this, and thou wilt live high above the rewards and 
punishments of that spectral giant, which men call 
Society. 

' But I shall be misunderstood — misrepresented.' 

And what if thou art ? They who throw stones 
at what is above them, receive the missiles back 
again, by the law of gravity ; and lucky are they, if 
they bruise not their own faces. 

Would that I could persuade all who read this 
to be truthful and free ; to say what they think, and 
act what they feel ; to cast from them, like ropes of 
sand, all fear of sects, and parties, and clans, and 
classes. Most earnestly do 1 pray to be bound only 
by my own conscience, in that circle of duties, which 
widens ever, till it enfolds all being, and touches the 
throne of God. 

What is there of joyful freedom in our social in- 
tercourse ) We meet to see each other ; and not a 
peep do we get under the thick, stifling veil which 
each carries about him. We visit to enjoy ourselves ; 
and our host takes away all our freedom, while we 
destroy his own. If the host wishes to work or ride, 
he dare not, lest it seem impolite to the guest; if the 
guest wishes to read or sleep, he dare not, lest it seem 
impolite to the host ; so they both remain slaves, and 
feel it a relief to part company. A few individuals, 
mostly in foreign lands, arrange this matter with wi- 
ser freedom. If a visiter arrives, they say, 'I am 
busy to-day ; but if you wish to ride, there are horse 
and saddle in the stable ; if you wish to read, there 
arc books in the library ; if you are inclined to mu- 
sic, flute and piano are in the parlour ; if you want 
to work, the men are raking hay in the fields ; if you 
want to romp, the children are at play in the court ; 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 217 

if you want to talk with me, I can be with you at 
such an hour. Go when you please, and while you 
stay do as you please.' 

At some houses in Florence, large parties meet, 
without invitation, and with the slightest prepara- 
tion. It is understood that on some particular eve- 
ning of the week, a lady or gentleman always receive 
their friends. In one room are books, and busts, and 
flowers ; in another, pictures and engravings ; in a 
third, music ; couples are ensconced in some sheltered 
alcove, or groups dotted about the rooms in mirthful 
or serious conversation. No one is required to speak 
to his host, either entering or departing. Lemonade 
and baskets of fruit stand here and there on the side- 
tables, that all may take who like ; but eating, which 
constitutes so large a part of all American entertain- 
ments, is a slight and almost unnoticed incident in 
these festivals of intellect and taste. Wouldst thou 
like to see such social freedom introduced here 1 
Then do it. But the first step must be complete in- 
difference to Mrs. Smith's assertion, that you were 
mean enough to oifer only one kind of cake to your 
company, and to put less shortening in the under 
crust of your pies than the upper. Let Mrs. Smith 
talk according to her gifts : be thou assnred that all 
living souls love freedom better than cake or under- 
crust. 

Of perfect social freedom I never knew but one in- 
stance. Doctor H of Boston, coming home to 

dine one day, found a very bright-looking handsome 
mulatto on the steps, apparently about seven or eight 
years old. As he opened the door, the boy glided in, 
as if it were his home. ' What do you want?' said 
the doctor. The child looked up with smiling con- 
fidence, and answered, ' I am a little boy that run 
away from Providence ; and I want some dinner ; 
and I thought maybe you would give me some. 7 
His radiant face, and child-like freedom operated 
19 



218 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

like a charm. He had a good dinner, and remained 
several days, becoming more and more the pet of the 
whole household. He said he had been cruelly 
treated by somebody in Providence, and had run 
away ; but the people he described could not be 
found. The doctor thought it would not do to have 
him growing up in idleness, and he tried to find a 
place where he could rim of errands, clean knives, 
&c. for his living. An hour after this was mention- 
ed, the boy was missing. In a few weeks, they 
heard of him in the opposite part of the city, sitting 
on a door-step at dinner-time. When the door op- 
ened, he walked in, smiling, and said, ' I am a little 
boy that run away from Providence ; and I want 
some dinner, and I thought maybe you would give 
me some.' He was not mistaken this time either. 
The heart that trusted so completely received a cor- 
dial welcome. After a time, it was again proposed 
to find some place at service ; and straightway this 
human butterfly was off, no one knew whither. 

For several months no more was heard of him. 
But one bright winter day, his first benefactor found 
him seated on the steps of a house in Beacon-street. 
* Why, Tom, where did you come from?' said he. 
' I came from Philadelphia.' ' How upon earth did 
you get there?' 'I heard folks talk about New 
York, and I thought I should like to see it. So I 
went on board a steamboat ; and when it put off, the 
captain asked me who I was ; and I told him that I 
was a little boy that run away from Providence, and I 
wanted to go to New York, but I hadn't any money. 
' You little rascal,' says he, ' Til throw you over- 
board.' I don't believe you will, said I ; and he 
didn't. I told him I was hungry, and he gave me 
something to eat, and made up a nice little bed for 
me. When I got to New York, I went and sat down 
on a door-step ; and when the gentleman came home 
to dinner, I went in, and told him that I was a little 
boy that run away from Providence, and I was hun- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 219 

gry. So they gave me something to eat, and made 
up a nice little bed for me, and let me stay there. 
But I wanted to see Philadelphia ; so I went into a 
steamboat ; and when they asked me who I was, I 
told them that I was a little boy that run away from 
Providence. They said I had no business there, but 
they gave me an orange. When I got to Philadel- 
phia, I sat down on a door-step, and when the gen- 
tleman came home to dinner, I told him I was a 
little boy that run away from Providence, and I 
thought perhaps he would give me something to eat. 
So they gave me a good dinner, and made me up a 
nice little bed. Then I wanted to come back to 
Boston ; and every body gave me something to eat, 
and made me up a nice little bed. And I sat down 
on this door-step, and when the lady asked me what 
I wanted, 1 told her I was a little boy that run away 
from Providence, and I was hungry. So she gave 
me something to eat, and made me up a nice little 
bed ; and I stay here, and do her errands sometimes. 
Every body is very good to me, and I like every body.' 

He looked up with the most sunny gayety, and 
striking his hoop as he spoke, went down the street 
like an arrow. He disappeared soon after, probably 
in quest of new adventures. I have never heard of 
him since ; and sometimes a painful fear passes 
through my mind that the kidnappers, prowling 
about all our large towns, have carried him into 
slavery. 

The story had a charm for me, for two reasons. I 
was delighted with the artless freedom of the win- 
ning, wayward child ; and still more did I rejoice in 
the perpetual kindness, which everywhere gave it 
such friendly greeting. O, if we would but dare to 
throw ourselves on each other's hearts, how the im- 
age of heaven would be reflected all over the face of 
this earth, as the clear blue sky lies mirrored in the 
waters. 



220 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



LETTER XXXI. 

November 19, 1812. 

To-day, I cannot write of beauty ; for I am sad 
and troubled. Heart, head, and conscience, are all 
in battle-array against the savage customs of my 
time. By and by, the law of love, like oil upon the 
waters, will calm my surging sympathies, and make 
the current flow more calmly, though none the less 
deep or strong. But to-day, do not ask me to love gov- 
ernour, sheriff or constable, or any man who defends 
capital punishment. I ought to do it ; for genuine 
love enfolds even murderers with its blessing. By 
to-morrow, I think I can remember them without 
bitterness ; but to-day, I cannot love them ; on my 
soul, I cannot. 

We were to have had an execution yesterday ; but 
the wretched prisoner avoided it by suicide. The 
gallows had been erected for several hours, and with 
a cool refinement of cruelty, was hoisted before the 
window of the condemned ; the hangman was all 
ready to cut the cord ; marshals paced back and 
forth, smoking and whistling : spectators were wait- 
ing impatiently to see whether he would ' die game.' 
Printed circulars had been handed abroad to sum- 
mon the number of witnesses required by law : — 
1 You are respectfully invited to witness the execu- 
tion of John C. Colt' I trust some of them are pre- 
served for museums. Specimens should be kept, as 
relics of a barbarous age, for succeeding generations 
to wonder at. They might be hung up in a frame ; 
and the portrait of a New Zealand Chief, picking the 
bones of an enemy of his tribe, would be an appro- 
priate pendant. 

This bloody insult was thrust into the hands of 
some citizens, who carried hearts under their vests, 
and they threw it in tattered fragments to the dogs 
and swine, as more fitting witnesses than human 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 221 

beings. It was cheering to those who have faith hi 
human progress, to see how many viewed the sub- 
ject in this light. But as a general thing, the very- 
spirit of murder w r as rife among the dense crowd, 
which thronged the place of execution. They were 
swelling with revenge, and eager for blood. One 
man came all the way from New Hampshire, on 
purpose to witness the entertainment ; thereby show- 
ing himself a likely subject for the gallows, whoever 
he may be. Women deemed themselves not treated 
with becoming gallantry, because tickets of admit- 
tance were denied them; and I think it showed inju- 
dicious partiality ; for many of them can be taught 
murder by as short a lesson as any man, and sustain 
it by arguments from Scripture, as ably as any theo- 
logian. However they were not admitted to this ed- 
ifying exhibition in the great school of public morals; 
and had only the slim comfort of standing outside, 
in a keen November wind, to catch the first toll of 
the bell, which would announce that a human broth- 
er had been sent struggling into eternity by the hand 
of violence. But while the multitude stood with 
open watches, and strained ears to catch the sound, 
and the marshals smoked and whistled, and the 
hangman walked up and down, waiting for his prey, 
lo ! word was brought that the criminal was found 
dead in his bed ! He had asked one half hour alone 
to prepare li^s mind for departure ; and at the end of 
that brief interval, he was found with a dagger 
thrust into his heart. The tidings were received 
with fierce mutterings of disappointed rage. The 
throng beyond the walls were furious to see him 
with their own eyes, to be sure that he was dead. 
But when the welcome news met my ear, a tre- 
mendous load was taken from my heart. I had no 
chance to analyze right and wrong ; for over all 
thought and feeling flowed impulsive joy, that this 
'Christian' community were cheated of a hanging. 
19* 



222 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

They who had assembled to commit lagalized mur- 
der, in cold blood, with strange confusion of ideas, 
were unmindful of their own guilt, while they talked 
of his suicide as a crime equal to that for which 
he was condemned. I am willing to leave it be- 
tween him and his God. For myself, I would rath- 
er have the burden of it on my own soul, than take 
the guilt of those who would have executed a fellow- 
creature. He was driven to a fearful extremity of 
agony and desperation. He was precisely in the sit- 
uation of a man on board a burning ship, who being 
compelled to face death, jumps into the waves, as the 
least painful mode of the two. But they, who thus 
drove him ' to walk the plank,' made cool, deliberate 
preparations to take life, and with inventive cruelty 
sought to add every bitter drop that could be added 
to the dreadful cup of vengeance. 

To me, human life seems so sacred a thing, that 
its violent termination always fills me with horror, 
whether perpetrated by an individual or a crowd ; 
whether done contrary to law and custom, or accor- 
ding to law and custom. Why John C. Colt should 
be condemned to an ignominious death for an act of 
resentment altogether unpremeditated, while men, 
who deliberately, and with malice aforethought, go 
out to murder another for some insulting word, are 
judges, and senators in the land, and favourite can- 
didates for the President's chair, is more/ than I can 
comprehend. There is, to say the least, a strange 
inconsistency in our customs. 

At the same moment that I was informed of the 
death of the prisoner, I heard that the prison was on 
fire. It was soon extinguished, but the remarkable 
coincidence added not a little to the convulsive ex- 
citement of the hour. I went with a friend to look 
at the beautiful spectacle ; for it was exceedingly 
beautiful. The fire had kindled at the very top of 
the cupola, the wind was high, and the flames rush- 
ed upward, as if the angry spirits below had esca- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 223 

ped on fiery wings. Heaven forgive the feelings 
that, for a moment mingled with my admiration of 
that beautiful conflagration !. Society had kindled 
all around me a bad excitement, and one of the in- 
fernal sparks fell into my own heart. If this was 
the effect produced on me, who am by nature tender- 
hearted, by principle opposed to all retaliation, and 
by social position secluded from contact with evil, 
what must it have been on the minds of rowdies and 
desperadoes 1 The effect of executions on all 
brought within their influence is evil, and nothing 
but evil. For a fortnight past, this whole city has 
been kept in a state of corroding excitement, either 
of hope or fear. The stern pride of the prisoner left 
little in his peculiar case to appeal to the sympathies 
of society ; yet the instincts of our common nature 
rose up against the sanguinary spirit manifested to- 
ward him. The public were, moreover, divided in 
opinion with regard to the legal construction of his 
crime ; and in the keen discussion of legal distinc- 
tions, moral distinctions became wofully confused. 
Each day hope and fear alternated ; the natural ef- 
fect of all this, was to have the whole thing regard- 
ed as a game, in which the criminal might, or might 
not, become the winner ; and every experiment of 
this kind shakes public respect for the laws, from 
centre to circumference. Worse than all this was 
the horrible amount of diabolical passion excited. 
The hearts of men were filled with murder ; they 
gloated over the thoughts of vengeance, and were 
rabid to witness a fellow-creature's agony. They 
complained loudly that he was not to be hung high 
enough for the crowd to see him. ' What a pity V 
exclaimed a woman, who stood near me, gazing at 
the burning tower ; ' they will have to give him two 
hours more to live.' ' Would you feel so, if he were 
your son V said I. Her countenance changed in- 
stantly. She had not before realized that every crim- 
inal was somebody' 's son, 



224 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

As we walked homeward, we encountered a dep- 
uty sheriff; not the most promising material, cer- 
tainly, for lessons on humanity ; but to him we 
spoke of the crowd of savage faces, and the tones of 
hatred, as obvious proofs of the bad influence of cap- 
ital punishment. ' I know that,' said he ; ' but I 
don't see how we could dispense with it. Now sup- 
pose we had fifty murderers shut up in prison for 
life, instead of hanging 'em ; and suppose there 
should come a revolution ; what an awful thing it 
would be to have fifty murderers inside the prison, 
to be let loose upon the community !' ' There is 
another side to that proposition,' we answered ; : for 
every criminal you execute, you make a hundred 
murderers outside the prison, each as dangerous as 
would be the one inside.' He said perhaps it was 
so : and went his way. 

As for the punishment and the terror of such do- 
ings, they fall most keenly on the best hearts in the 
community. Thousands of men, as well as women, 
had broken and startled sleep for several nights pre- 
ceding that dreadful day. Executions always ex- 
cite a universal shudder among the innocent, the hu- 
mane, and the wise-hearted. It is the voice of God, 
crying aloud within us against the wickedness of 
this savage custom. Else why is it that the instinct 
is so universal 7 

The last conversation I had with the late William 
Ladd made a strong impression on my mind. While 
he was a sea-captain, he occasionally visited Spain, 
and once witnessed an execution there. He said 
that no man, however low and despicable, would 
consent to perform the office of hangman ; and who- 
ever should dare to suggest such a thing to a decent 
man, would be likely to have his brains blown out. 
This feeling was so strong, and so universal, that the 
only way they could procure an executioner, was to 
offer a condemned criminal his own life, if he would 
consent to perform the vile and hateful office on anoth- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 225 

er. Sometimes executions were postponed for months, 
because there was no condemned criminal to perform 
the office of hangman. A fee was allotted by law to 
the wretch who did perform it, but no one would 
run the risk of touching his polluted hand by giving 
it to him ; therefore, the priest threw the purse as 
far as possible ; the odious being ran to pick it up, 
and hastened to escape from the shuddering execra- 
tions of all who had known him as a hangman. 
Even the poor animal that carried the criminal and 
his coffin in a cart to the foot of the gallows, was an 
object of universal loathing. He was cropped and 
marked, that he might be known as the ' Hangman's 
Donkey.' No man, however great his needs, would 
use this beast, either for pleasure or labour ; and the 
peasants were so averse to having him pollute their 
fields with his footsteps, that when he was seen ap- 
proaching, the boys hastened to open the gates, and 
drive him off with hisses, sticks, and stones. Thus 
does the human heart cry out aloud against this 
wicked practice ! 

A tacit acknowledgment of the demoralizing in- 
fluence of executions is generally made, in the fact 
that they are forbidden to be public, as formerly. 
The scene is now in a prison yard, instead of open 
fields, and no spectators are admitted but officers of 
the law, and those especially invited. Yet a favour- 
ite argument in favour of capital punishment has 
been the terror that the spectacle inspires in the breast 
of evil doers. I trust the two or three hundred, sin- 
gled out from the mass of New York population, by 
particular invitation, especially the judges and civil 
officers, will feel the full weight of the compliment 
During the French Revolution, public executions 
seemed too slow, and Fouquier proposed to put the 
guillotine under cover, where batches of a hundred 
might be despatched with few spectators. l Wilt 
thou demoralize ^the guillotine?' asked Callot, re- 
proachfully. 



226 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

That bloody guillotine was an instrument of law, 
as well as our gallows ; and what, in the name of all 
that is villanous, has not been established by law 1 
Nations, clans, and classes, engaged in fierce strug- 
gles of selfishness and hatred, made law r s to strength- 
en each other's power, and revenge each other's ag- 
gressions. By slow degress, always timidly and re- 
luctantly, society emerges out of the barbarisms with 
which it thus became entangled. It is but a short 
time ago that men were hung in this country for steal- 
ing. The last human brother who suffered under 
this law, in Massachusetts, was so wretchedly poor, 
that when he hung on the gallows, his rags fluttered 
in the wind. What think you w T as the comparative 
guilt, in the eye of God, between him and those who 
hung him ? Yet. it w r as according to law ; and men 
cried out as vociferously then as they now do, that 
it was not safe to have the law changed. Judge 
McKean, governor of Pennsylvania, was strongly 
opposed to the abolition of death for stealing, and the 
disuse of the pillory and whipping-post. He was a 
very humane man, but had the common fear of chan- 
ging old customs. ' It will not do to abolish these 
salutary restraints,' "said the old gentleman : ' it will 
break up the foundations of society.' Those relics 
of barbarism were banished long ago : but the foun- 
dations of society are in nowise injured thereby. 

The testimony from all parts of the world is inva- 
riable and conclusive, that crime diminishes in pro- 
portion to the mildness of the laws. The real danger 
is in having laws on the statute-book at variance 
with universal instincts of the human heart, and thus 
tempting men to continual evasion. The evasion, 
even of a bad law, is attended with many mischiev- 
ous results; its abolition is always safe. 

In looking at Capital Punishment in its practical 
bearings on the operation of justice, an observing 
mind is at once struck with the extreme uncertainty 
attending it. The balance swings hither and thither, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 227 

and settles, as it were, by chance. The strong in- 
stincts of the heart teach juries extreme reluctance 
to.convict for capital offences. They will avail them- 
selves of every loophole in the evidence, to avoid the 
bloody responsibility imposed upon them. In this 
way, undoubted criminals escape all punishment, 
until society becomes alarmed for its own safety, and 
insists that the next victim shall be sacrificed. It 
was the misfortune of John C. Colt, to be arrested 
at the time when the popular wave of indignation 
had been swelling higher and higher, in consequence 
of the impunity with which Robinson, White, and 
Jewell, had escaped. The wrath and jealousy which 
they had excited was visited upon him, and his 
chance for a merciful verdict was greatly diminished. 
The scale now turns the other way ; and the next 
offender will probably receive very lenient treatment, 
though he should not have half so many extenuat- 
ing circumstances in his favour. 

Another thought which forces itself upon the mind 
in consideration of this subject is the danger of con- 
victing the innocent. Murder is a crime which must 
of course be committed in secret, and therefore the 
proof must be mainly circumstantial. This kind of 
evidence is in its nature so precarious, that men have 
learned great timidity in trusting to it. In Scotland, 
it led to so many terrible mistakes, that they long 
ago refused to convict any man of a capital offence, 
upon circumstantial evidence. 

A few years ago, a poor German came to New 
York, and took lodgings, where he was allowed to 
do his cooking in the same room with the family. 
The husband and wife lived in a perpetual quarrel. 
One day the German came into the kitchen with a 
clasp knife and a pan of potatoes, and began to pare 
them for his dinner. The quarrelsome couple were 
in a more violent altercation than usual ; but he sat 
with his back toward them, and being ignorant of 
their language, felt in no danger of being involved 



228 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

in their disputes. But the woman, with a sudden 
and unexpected movement, snatched the knife from 
his hand, and plunged it in her husband's heart. 
She had sufficient presence of mind to rush into the 
street, and scream murder. The poor foreigner, in 
the meanwhile, seeing the wounded man reel, sprang 
forward to catch him in his arms, and drew out the 
knife. People from the street crowded in, and found 
him with the dying man in his arms, the knife in 
his hand, and blood upon his clothes. The wick- 
ed woman swore, in the most positive terms, that he 
had been fighting with her husband, and had stab- 
bed him with a knife he always carried. The un- 
fortunate German knew too little English to under- 
stand her accusation, or to tell his own story. He 
was dragged off to prison, and the true state of the case 
was made known through an interpreter; but it was 
not believed. Circumstantial evidence was exceed- 
ingly strong against the accused, and the real crim- 
inal swore unhesitatingly that she saw him commit 
the murder. He was executed, notwithstanding the 
most persevering efforts of his lawyer, John Anthon, 
Esq. whose convictions of the man's innocence were 
so painfully strong, that from that day to this, he 
has refused to have any connection with a capital 
case. Some years after this tragic event, the woman 
died, and, on her death-bed, confessed her agency in 
the diabolical transaction ; but her poor victim could 
receive no benefit from this tardy repentance : society 
had wantonly thrown away its power to atone for 
the grievous wrong. 

Many of my readers will doubtless recollect the 
tragical fate of Burton, in Missouri, on which a novel 
was founded, which still circulates in the libraries. 
A young lady, belonging to a genteel and very proud 
family, in Missouri, was beloved by a young man 
named Burton ; but unfortunately, her affections 
were fixed on another less worthy. He left her with 
a tarnished reputation. She was by nature encr- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 229 

getic and high-spirited, her family were proud, and 
she lived in the midst of a society which considered 
revenge a virtue, and named it honour. Misled 
by this false popular sentiment, and her own excited 
feelings, she resolved to repay her lover's treachery 
with death. But she kept her secret so well, that 
no one suspected her purpose, though she purchased 
pistols, and practised with them daily. Mr. Burton 
gave evidence of his strong attachment by renewing 
his attentions when the world looked most coldly 
upon her. His generous kindness won her bleeding 
heart, bat the softening influence of love did not lead 
her to forego the dreadful purpose she had formed* 
She watched for a favourable opportunity, and shot 
her betrayer, when no one was near, to witness the 
horrible deed. Some little incident excited the sus- 
picion of Burton, and he induced her to confers to 
him the whole transaction. It was obvious enough 
that suspicion would naturally fasten upon him, the 
well-known lover of her who had been so deeply in- 
jured. He was arrested, but succeeded in persuad- 
ing her that he was in no danger. Circumstantial 
evidence was fearfully against him, and he soon saw 
that his chance was doubtful ; but with affectionate 
magnanimity, he concealed this from her. He was 
convicted and condemned. A short time before the 
execution, he endeavoured to cut his throat ; but his 
life was saved for the cruel purpose of taking it a- 
way according to the cold-blooded barbarism of the 
law. Pale and wounded, he was hoisted to the gal- 
lows before the gaze of a Christian community. 

The guilty cause of all this was almost frantic, 
when she found that he had thus sacrificed himself 
to save her. She immediately published the whole 
history of her wrongs, and her revenge. Her keen 
sense of wounded honour was in accordance with 
public sentiment, her wrongs excited indignation 
and compassion, and the knowledge that an innocent 
20 



230 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

and magnanimous man had been so brutally treat- 
ed, excited a general revulsion of popular feeling. 
No one wished for another victim, and she was left 
unpunished, "save by the dreadful records of her 
memory. 

Few know how numerous are the cases where it 
has subsequently been discovered that the innocent 
suffered instead of the guilty. Yet one such case in 
an age is surely enough to make legislators pause 
before they cast a vote against the abolition of Capi- 
tal Punishment. 

But many say, l the Old Testament requires blood 
for blood.' So it requires that a woman should be 
put to death for adultery ; and men for doing work 
on the Sabbath ; and children for cursing their pa- 
rents ; and ' If an ox were to push with his horn, in 
time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, 
and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed 
a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and his 
owner also shall be put to death.' The commands 
given to the Jews, in the old dispensation, do not 
form the basis of any legal code in Christendom. 
They could not form the basis of any civilized 
code. If one command is binding on our conscien- 
ces, all are binding ; for they all rest on the same 
authority. They who feel bound to advocate capi- 
tal punishment for murder, on account of the law 
given to Moses, ought, for the same reason, to insist 
that children should be executed for striking or curs- 
ing their parents. 

' It was said by them of old time, an eye for an 
eye, and a tooth for a tooth ; but / say unto you re- 
sist not evil.' If our ' eyes were lifted up,' we 
should see, not Moses and Elias, but Jesus only. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 231 



LETTER XXXII. 

November 26, 1842. 

Every year of my life I grow more and more con- 
vinced, that it is wisest and best to fix our attention 
on the beautiful and good, and dwell as little as pos- 
sible on the evil and the false. Society has done my 
spirit grievous wrong, for the last few weeks, with 
its legal bull-baitings, and its hired murderers. 
They have made me ashamed of belonging to the 
human species ; and were it not that I struggled 
hard against it, and prayed earnestly for a spirit of 
forgiveness, they would have made me hate my race. 
Yet feeling thus, I did wrong to them. Most of them 
had merely caught the contagion of murder, and re- 
ally were not aware of the nature of the fiend they 
harboured. Probably there was not a single heart 
in the community, not even the most brutal, that 
would not have been softened, could it have entered 
into confidential intercourse with the prisoner as Dr. 
Anthon did. All would then have learned that he 
was a human being, with a heart to be melted, and 
a conscience to be roused, like the rest of us ; that 
under the turbid and surging tide of proud, exaspe- 
rated feelings, ran a warm curreut of human affec- 
tions, which, with more genial influences, might 
have flowed on deeper and stronger, mingling its wa- 
ters with the river of life. All this each one would 
have kuown, could he have looked into the heart of 
the poor criminal as God looketh. But his whole 
life was judged by a desperate act, done in the in- 
sanity of passion ; and the motives and the circum- 
stances were revealed to the public only through the 
cold barbarisms of the law, and the fierce exaggera- 
tions of an excited populace ; therefore he seemed 
like a wild beast, walled out from human sympa- 
thies, — not as a fellow-creature, with like passions 
and feelings as themselves. 



232 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Carlyle, in his French Revolution, speaking of one 
of the three bloodiest judges of the Reign of Terror, 
says : ' Marat too had a brother, and natural affec- 
tions ; and was wrapt once in swaddling-clothes, and 
slept safe in a cradle, like the rest of us.' We are 
too apt to forget these gentle considerations when 
talking of public criminals. 

It we looked into our souls with a more wise hu- 
mility, we should discover in our own ungoverned 
anger the germ of murder ; and meekly thank God 
that we, too, had not been brought into temptations 
too fiery for our strength. It is sad to think how 
the records of a few evil days may blot out from the 
memory of our fellow-men whole years of generous 
thoughts and deeds of kindness ; and this, too, when 
each one has before him the volume of his own bro- 
ken resolutions, and oft-repeated sins. The temp- 
tation which most easily besets you, needed, per- 
haps, to be only a little stronger ; you needed only 
to be surrounded by circumstances a little more dan- 
gerous and exciting, and perhaps you, who now walk 
abroad in the sunshine of respectability, might have 
come under the ban of human laws, as you have 
into frequent disobedience of the divine ; and then 
that one foul blot would have been regarded as the 
hieroglyphic symbol of your whole life. Between 
you and the inmate of the penitentiary, society sees 
a difference so great, that you are scarcely recogni- 
zed as belonging to the same species ; but there is 
One who judgeth not as man judgeth. 

When Mrs. Fry spoke at Newgate, she was wont 
to address both prisoners and visiters as sinners. 
When Dr. Channing alluded to this practice, she 
meekly replied, ' In the sight of God, there is not, 
perhaps, so much difference as men think.' In the 
midst of recklessness, revenge, and despair, there is 
often a glimmering evidence that the divine spark is 
not quite extinguished. Who can tell into what a 
holy flame of benevolence and self-sacrifice it might 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 233 

have been kindled, had the man been surrounded 
from his cradle by an atmosphere of love ? 

Surely these considerations should make us judge 
mercifully of the sinner, while we hate the sin with 
tenfold intensity, because it is an enemy that lies in 
wait for us all. The highest and holiest example 
teaches us to forgive all crimes, while we palliate 
none. 

Would that we could learn to be kind — always 
and everywhere kind ! Every jealous thought I 
cherish, every angry word I utter, every repulsive 
tone, is helping to build penitentiaries and prisons, 
and to fill them with those who merely carry the 
same passions and feelings farther than I do. It is 
an awful thought ; and the more it is impressed up- 
on me, the more earnestly do I pray to live in a state 
of perpetual benediction. 

' Love hath a longing and a power to save the gathered world, 
And rescue universal man from the hunting hell-hounds of his doings.' 

And so I return, as the old preachers used to say, 
to my first proposition ; that we should think gently 
of all, and claim kindred with all, and include all, 
without exception, in the circle of our kindly sym- 
pathies. I would not thrust out even the hangman, 
though methinks if I were dying of thirst, I would 
rather wait to receive water from another hand than 
his. Yet what is the hangman but a servant of the 
law ? And what is the law but an expression of 
public opinion ? And if public opinion be brutal, 
and thou a component part thereof, art thou not the 
hangman's accomplice ? In the name of our com- 
mon Father, sing thy part of the great chorus in the 
truest time, and thus bring this crashing discord into 
harmony ! 

And if at times, the discord proves too strong for 
thee, go out into the great temple of Nature, and 
drink in freshness from her never-failing fountain. 
20* 



234 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

The devices of men pass away as a vapour ; but 
she changes nev r er. Above all fluctuations of opin- 
ion, and all the tumult of the passions, she smiles ev- 
er, in various but unchanging beauty. I have gone 
to her with tears in my eyes, with a heart full of 
the saddest forebodings, for myself and all the hu- 
man race ; and lo, she has shown me a babe pluck- 
ing a white clover, with busy, uncertain little fingers, 
and the child walked straight into my heart, and 
prophesied as hopefully as an angel ; and I believed 
her, and went on my way rejoicing. The language 
of nature, like that of music, is universal ; it speaks 
to the heart, and is understood by all. Dialects 
belong to clans and sects ; tones to the universe. 
High above all language, floats music on its amber 
cloud. It is not the exponent of opinion, but of feel- 
ing. The heart made it ; therefore it is infinite. It 
reveals more than language can ever utter, or 
thoughts conceive. And high as music is above 
mere dialects — winging its godlike way, while verbs 
and nouns go creeping — even so sounds the voice of 
Love, that clear, treble-note of the universe, into the 
heart of man, and the ear of Jehovah. 

In sincere humility do I acknowledge that if I am 
less guilty than some of my human brothers, it is 
mainly because I have been beloved. Kind emotions 
and impulses have not been sent back to me, like 
dreary echoes, through empty rooms. All around me 
at this moment are tokens of a friendly heart-warmth. 
A sheaf of dried grasses brings near the gentle 
image of one who gathered them for love ; a varied 
group of the graceful lady-fern tells me of summer 
rambles in the woods, by one who mingled thoughts 
of me with all her glimpses of nature's beauty. A 
rose-bush, from a poor Irish woman, speaks to me of 
her blessings. A bird of paradise, sent by friend- 
ship to warm the wintry hours with thoughts of sun- 
ny Eastern climes, cheers me with its floating beau- 
ty, like a fairy fancy. Flower-tokens from the best 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 235 

of neighbours, have come all summer long, to bid me 
a blithe good morning, and tell me news of sunshine 
and fresh air. A piece of sponge, graceful as if it 
grew on the arms of the wave, reminds me of Gre- 
cian seas, and of Hylas borne away by water- 
nymphs. It was given me for its uncommon beau- 
ty ; and who will not try harder to be good, for be- 
ing deemed a fit recipient of the beautiful ? A root, 
which promises to bloom into fragrance, is sent by 
an old Uuaker lady, whom I know not, but who 
says, ' I would fain minister to thy love of flowers.' 
Affection sends childhood to peep lovingly at me 
from engravings, or stand in classic grace, embodied 
in the little plaster cast. The far-off and the near, 
the past and the future, are with me in my humble 
apartment. True, the mementoes cost little of the 
world's wealth ; for they are of the simplest kind ; 
but they express the universe — because they are 
thoughts of love, clothed in forms of beauty. 

Why do I mention these things '? From vanity ? 
Nay, verily ; for it often humbles me to tears, to 
think how much I am loved more than I deserve ; 
while thousands, far nearer to God, pass on their 
thorny path, comparatively uncheered by love and 
blessing. But it came into my heart to tell you how 
much these things helped me to be good ; how they 
were like roses dropped by unseen hands, guiding 
me through a wilderness-path unto our Father's 
mansion. And the love that helps me to be good, I 
would have you bestow upon all, that all may be- 
come good. To love others is greater happiness than 
to be beloved by them ; to do good is more blessed 
than to receive. The heart of Jesus was so full of 
love, that he called little children to his arms, and 
folded John upon his bosom ; and this love made 
him capable of such divine self-renunciation, that he 
could offer up even his life for the good of the world. 
The desire to be beloved is ever restless and unsat- 
isfied ; but the love that flows out upon others is a 



236 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

perpetual well-spring from on high. This source of 
happiness is within the reach of all : here, if not 
elsewhere, may the stranger and the friendless satis- 
fy the infinite yearnings of the human heart, and find 
therein refreshment and joy. 

Believe me, the great panacea for all the disorders 
in the universe, is Love. For thousands of years the 
world has gone on perversely, trying to overcome 
evil with evil ; with the worst results, as the condi- 
tion of things plainly testifies. Nearly two thousand 
years ago, the prophet of the Highest proclaimed 
that evil could be overcome only with good. But 
' when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith 
on the earth V If we have faith in this holy princi- 
ple, where is it written on our laws or our customs 1 

Write it on thine own life : and men reading it 
shall say, lo, something greater than vengeance is 
here ; a power mightier than coercion. And thus 
the individual faith shall become a social faith ; and 
to the mountains of crime around us, it will say, ' Be 
thou removed, and cast into the depths of the sea !' 
and they will be removed ; and the places that knew 
them shall know them no more. 

This hope is coming toward us, with a halo of 
sunshine round its head ; in the light it casts before, 
let us do works of zeal with the spirit of love. Man 
may be redeemed from his thraldom ! He will be 
redeemed. For the mouth of the Most High hath 
spoken it. It is inscribed in written prophecy, and 
He utters it to our hearts in perpetual revelation. 
To you, and me, and each of us, He says, ' Go, 
bring my people out of Egypt, into the promised land.' 

To perform this mission, we must love both the 
evil and the good, and shower blessings on the just 
as well as the unjust. Thanks to our Heavenly Fa- 
ther, I have had much friendly aid on my own spir- 
itual pilgrimage ; through many a cloud has pierced 
a sunbeam, and over many a pitfall have I been 
guided by a garland. In gratitude for this, fain would 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

I help others to be good, according to the small meas- 
ure of my ability. My spiritual adventures are like 
those of the ' little boy that run away from Provi- 
dence.' When troubled or discouraged, my soul seats 
itself on some* door-step — there is ever some one to 
welcome me in, and make ' a nice little bed' for my 
weary heart. It may be a young friend, who gathers 
for me flowers in Summer, and grasses, ferns, and 
red berries in the Autumn ; or it may be sweet Mary 
Howitt, whose mission it is ' to turn the sunny side 
of things to human eyes ; ' or Charles Dickens, who 
looks with such deep and friendly glance into the 
human heart, whether it beats beneath embroidered 
vest, or tattered jacket; or the serene and gentle 
Fenelon ; or the devout Thomas a Kempis ; or the 
meek-spirited John Woolman ; or the eloquent hope- 
fulness of Channing ; or the cathedral tones of Keble, 
or the saintly beauty of Raphael, or the clear mel- 
ody of Handel. All speak to me with friendly greet- 
ing, and have somewhat to give my thirsty soul. 
Fain would I do the same, for all who come to my 
door-step, hungry, and cold, spiritually or naturally. 
To the erring and the guilty, above all others, the 
door of my heart shall never open outward. I have 
too much need of mercy. Are we not all children of 
the same Father ? and shall we not pity those who 
among pit-falls lose their way home 1 



LETTER XXXIII. 

December 8, 1842. 

I went, last Sunday, to the Catholic Cathedral, a 
fine-looking Gothic edifice, which impressec £#*Zj with 
that feeling of reverence so easily inspired in my 
soul by a relic of the past. I have heard many say 
that their first visit to a Catholic church filled them 
with laughter, the services seemed so absurd a mock- 
ery. It was never thus with me. I know not wheth- 



238 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

er it is that Nature endowed me so largely with imag- 
ination and with devotional feelings, or whether it is 
because I slept for years with ' Thomas a Kempis's 
Imitation of Christ' under my pillow, and found it 
my greatest consolation, and best outward guide, 
next to the New Testament; but so it is, that holy 
old monk is twined all about my heart with loving 
reverence, and the forms which had so deep spirit- 
ual significance to him, could never excite in me a 
mirthful feeling. Then the mere circumstance of an- 
tiquity is impressive to a character inclined to ven- 
eration. There stands the image of what was once 
a living church. A sort of Congress of Religions is 
she ; with the tiara of the Persian priest, the staff of 
the Roman augur, and the embroidered mantle of the 
Jewish rabbi. This is all natural ; for the Christian 
Idea was a resurrection from deceased Heathenism 
and Judaism, and rose encumbered with the grave- 
clothes and jewels of the dead. The Greek and Ro- 
man, when they became Christian, still clung fondly 
to the reminiscences of their early faith. The undy- 
ing flame on Apollo's shrine reappeared in ever-lighted 
candles on the Christian altar ; and the same idea 
that demanded vestal virgins for the heathen temple, 
set nuns apart for the Christian sanctuary. Tiara 
and embroidered garments were sacred to the imag- 
ination of the converted Jew; and conservatism, 
which in man's dual nature ever keeps innovation in 
check, led him to adopt them in his new worship. 
Thus did the spirituality of Christ come to us loaded 
with forms, not naturally and spontaneously flowing 
therefrom. The very cathedrals, with their cluster- 
ing columns and intertwining arches, were architec- 
tural Models of the groves and ' high-places,' sacred 
to the mind of the Pagans, who from infancy had 
therein worshipped their ' strange gods.' The days 
of the Christian week took the names of heathen de- 
ities, and statues of Venus were adored as Virgin 
Mothers. The bronze image of St. Peter, at Rome, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 239 

whose toe has been kissed away by devotees, was 
once a statue of Jupiter. An English traveller took 
off his hat to it as Jupiter, and asked him, if he 
ever recovered his power, to reward the only indi- 
vidual that ever bowed to him in his adversity. 

Let us not smile at this odd commingling of relig- 
ious faiths and forms. It is most natural ; and must 
ever be, when a new idea evolves itself from the old. 
The Reformers, to evade this tendency, destroyed 
the churches, the paintings, and the statues, which 
habit had so long endeared to the hearts and imag- 
inations of men ; yet while they flung away, with 
ruthless hand, all the poetry of the old establishment, 
they were themselves so much the creatures of edu- 
cation, that they brought into the new order of things 
many cumbrous forms of theology, the mere results of 
tradition ; and the unpretending fishermen, and tent- 
maker, still remained Saint Peter, and Saint Paul. 

Protestants make no images of Moses ; but many 
divide the homage of Christ with him, and spiritu- 
ally kiss his toe. Thus will the glory of a coming 
church walk in the shadow of our times, casting a 
radiance over that which it cannot quite dispel. 

I think it is Mosheim, who says, ' After Christian- 
ity became incorporated with the government, it is 
difficult to determine whether Heathenism was most 
Christianized, or Christianity most heathenized.' 

Wo for the hour, when moral truth became wed- 
ded to politics, and religion was made to subserve 
purposes of state ! That prostration of reason to au- 
thority still fetters the extremest Protestant of the 
nineteenth century, after the lapse of more than a 
thousand years, and a succession of convulsive efforts 
to throw it off. That boasted ' triumph of Christi- 
anity' came near being its destruction. The old fa- 
ble of the Pleiad fallen from the sky, by her marriage 
with an earth-born prince, is full of significance, in 
many applications; and in none more so, than the 
attempt to advance a spiritual principle by political 



240 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

machinery. Constantine legalized Christianity, and 
straightway the powers of this world made it their 
tool. To this day, two-thirds of Christians look out- 
ward to ask whether a thing is laiv, and not inward 
to ask whether it is right. They have mere legal 
consciences ; and do not perceive that human law is 
sacred only when it is the expression of a divine 
principle. To them, the slave trade is justifiable 
while the law sanctions it, and becomes piracy when 
the law pronounces it so. The moral principle that 
changes laws, never emanates from them. It acts on 
them, but never with them. They, through whom it 
acts, constitute the real church of the world, by 
whatsoever name they are called. 

The Catholic church is a bad foundation for liberty, 
civil or religious. I deprecate its obvious and unde- 
niable tendency to enslave the human mind ; but I 
marvel not that the imaginations of men are chained 
and led captive by this vision of the Past; for it is 
encircled all around with poetry, as with a halo ; 
and within its fantastic pageantry there is much that 
makes it sacred poetry. 

At the present time, indications are numerous that 
the human mind is tired out in the gymnasium of 
controversy, and asks earnestly for repose, protection, 
mystery, and undoubting faith. This tendency be- 
trays itself in the rainbow mysticism of Coleridge, 
the patriarchal tenderness of Wordsworth, the infi- 
nite aspiration of Beethoven. The reverential habit 
of mind varies its forms, according to temperament 
and character. In some minds, it shows itself in a 
superstitious fondness for all old forms of belief; the 
Church which is proved to their minds to resemble 
the apostolic, in its ritual, as well as its creed, is 
therefore the true Church. In other minds, venera- 
tion takes a form less obviously religious ; it is shown 
by a strong affection for everything antique; they 
worship shadowy legends, architectural ruins, and 
ancient customs. This habit of thought enabled Sir 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 241 

Walter to conjure up the guardian spirit of the house 
of Avenel, and re-people the regal halls of Kenil- 
worth. His works were the final efflorescence of 
feudal grandeur ; that system had passed away from 
political forms, and no longer had a home* in human 
reason ; but it lingered with a dim glory in the im- 
agination, and blossomed thus. 

Another class of minds rise to a higher plane of 
reverence ; their passion for the past becomes mingled 
with earnest aspiration for the holy. Such spirits 
walk in a golden fog of mysticism, which leads them 
far, often only to bring them back in a circling path 
to the faith of childhood, and the established laws of 
the realm. 

To such, Puseyism comes foiward, like a fine old 
cathedral made visible by a gush of moonlight. It 
appeals to the ancient, the venerable, and the moss- 
grown. It promises permanent repose in the midst 
of endless agitation. The young, the poetic, and the 
mystical, are charmed with ' the dim religious light' 
from its painted oriels ; they enter its Gothic aisles, 
resounding with the echoes of the past ; and the sol- 
emn glory fills them with worship. Episcopacy re- 
bukes, and dissenters argue ; but that which minis- 
ters to the sentiment of reverence, will have power 
over many souls, who hunt in vain for truth through 
the mazes of argument. To the ear that loves mu- 
sic, and sits listening intently for the voice that speaks 
while the dove descends from heaven, how discord- 
ant, how altogether unprofitable, is this hammering 
of sects ! — this coopering and heading up of empty 
barrels, so industriously carried on in theological 
schools ! When I am stunned by the loud, and many- 
tongued jargon of sect, I no longer wonder that men 
are ready to fall down and worship Romish absurdi- 
ties, dressed up in purple robes and golden crown ; 
the marvel rather is, that they have not returned to 
the worship of the ancient graces, the sun, the moon, 
the stars, or even the element of fire. 
21 



242 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

But be not disturbed by Pope or Pusey. They are 
but a part of the check-and-balance system of the 
universe, and in due time will yield to something 
better. Modes of faith last just as long as they are 
needed in Hie order of Providence, and not a day lon- 
ger. Let the theologian fume and fret as he may, 
truth cannot be forced above its level, any more than 
its great prototype, water. Of what avail are secta- 
rian efforts, and controversial words ? Live thou a 
holy life — let thy utterance be that of a free, meek 
spirit ! Thus, and not by ecclesiastical machinery, 
wilt thou help to prepare the world for a wiser faith 
and a purer worship. 

Meanwhile, let us hope and trust; and respect sin- 
cere devotion, wheresoever found. A wise mind 
never despises aught that flows from a feeling heart. 
Nothing would tempt me to disturb, even by the rus- 
tle of my garments, the Irish servant girl, kneeling 
in the crowded aisle. Blessed be any power, which, 
even for a moment, brings the human soul to the foot 
of the cross, conscious of its weakness and its igno- 
rance, its errors and its sins ! We may call it super- 
stition if we will, but the zealous faith of the Cath- 
olic is everywhere conspicuous above that of the 
Protestant. A friend from Canada lately told me an 
incident which deeply impressed this fact upon his 
mind. When they cut new roads through the woods, 
the priests are in the habit of inspecting all the pla- 
ces where villages are to be laid out. They choose 
the finest site for a church, and build thereon a high, 
strong cross, with railings round it, about three feet 
distant from each other. The inner enclosure is usu- 
ally more elevated than the outer ; a mound being 
raised about the foot of the Cross. Inserted in the 
main timber is a small image of the crucified Saviour, 
defended from the atmosphere by glass. In Catholic 
countries, this is called a Calvare. In the village 
called Petit Bruit (because nearly all the dwellings 
of the first settlers had been consumed by fire) was 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 243 

one of these tall Calvares, rendered conspicuous by 
its whiteness among the dense foliage of the forest. 
My friend had been riding for a long time in silence 
and solitude, and twilight was fast deepening into 
evening, when his horse suddenly reared, and showed 
signs of fear. Thinking it most prudent to under- 
stand the nature of the danger that awaited him, he 
stopped the horse and looked cautiously round. The 
tall white Cross stood near, in distinct relief against 
the dark back-ground of the forest, and at the foot 
were two Irishmen kneeling to say their evening 
prayers. They were poor, labouring men, employed 
in making the road, There was no human habita- 
tion for miles. From their own rude shantees, they 
must have walked at least two or three miles, after 
their severe daily toil, thus to bow down and wor- 
ship the Infinite, in a place they deemed holy ! 

Let those who can, ridicule the superstition that 
prompted such an act. Hereafter, may angels teach 
what remained unrevealed to them on earth, that 
Christ is truly worshipped, ' neither on this moun- 
tain, nor yet at Jerusalem.' 

I love the Irish. Blessings on their warm hearts, 
and their leaping fancies ! Clarkson records that 
while opposition met him in almost every form, not 
a single Irish member of the British Parliament ever 
voted against the abolition of the slave trade ; and 
how is the heart of that generous island now throb- 
bing with sympathy for the American slave ! 

Creatures of impulse and imagination, their very 
speech is poetry. 'What are you going to kill?' 
said I to one of the most stupid of Irish serving- 
maids, who seemed in great haste to crush some ob- 
ject in the corner of the room. ' A black boog, ma'am,' 
she replied. ' That is a cricket,' said I. ' It does no 
harm, but makes a friendly chirping on the hearth 
stone.' ' Och, and is it a cricket it is ? And 

when the night is abroad, will it be spaking ? Sure 
I'll not be after killing it, at all.' 



244 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

The most faithful and warm-hearted of Irish la- 
bourers, (and the good among them are the best on 
earth) urged me last spring not to fail, by any means, 
to rise before the sun on Easter morning. ' The 
Easter sun always dances when it rises,' said he. 
Assuredly he saw no mockery in my countenance, 
but perhaps he saw incredulity ; for he added, with 
pleading earnestness, ' And why should it not dance, 
by reason of rejoicement?' In his believing igno- 
rance, he had small cause to envy me the superiority 
of my reason ; at least I felt so for the moment. 
Beautiful is the superstition that makes all nature 
hail the holy ; that sees the cattle all kneel at the 
hour Christ was born, and the sun dance, ' by reason 
of rejoicement,' on the morning of his resurrection; that 
believes the dark Cross, actually found on the back of 
every ass, was first placed there when Jesus rode into 
Jerusalem with palm-branches strewed before him. 

Not in vain is Ireland pouring itself all over the 
earth. Divine Providence has a mission for her chil- 
dren to fulfil ; though a mission unrecognised by po- 
litical economists. There is ever a moral balance 
preserved in the universe, like the vibrations of the 
pendulum. The Irish, with their glowing hearts and 
reverent credulity, are needed in this cold age of in- 
tellect and scepticism. 

Africa furnishes another class, in whom the heart 
ever takes guidance of the head ; and all over the 
world the way is opening for them among the na- 
tions. Hayti and the British West Indies ; Algiers, 
settled by the French ; British colonies, spreading 
over the west and south of Africa ; and emancipa- 
tion urged throughout the civilized world. 

Women, too, on whose intellect ever rests the warm 
light of the affections, are obviously coming into a 
wider and wider field of action. 

All these things prophesy of physical force yield- 
ing to moral sentiment : and they are all agents to 
fulfil what they prophesy. God speed the hour. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 245 

LETTER XXXIV. 

Jan. 1843. 

You ask what are my opinions about ' Women's 
Rights.' I confess, a strong distaste to the subject, 
as it has been generally treated. On no other theme 
probably has there been uttered so much of false, 
mawkish sentiment, shallow philosophy, and sput- 
tering, farthing-candle wit. If the style of its advo- 
cates has often been offensive to taste, and unaccept- 
able to reason, assuredly that of its opponents have 
been still more so. College boys have amused them- 
selves with writing dreams, in which they saw wo- 
men in hotels, with their feet hoisted, and chairs tilt- 
ed back, or growling and bickering at each other in 
legislative halls, or fighting at the polls, with eyes 
blackened by fisticuffs. But it never seems to have 
occurred to these facetious writers, that the proceed- 
ings which appear so ludicrous and improper in wo- 
men, are also ridiculous and disgraceful in men. It 
were well that men should learn not to hoist their 
feet above their heads, and tilt their chairs backward, 
not to growl and snap in the halls of legislation, nor 
give each other black eyes at the polls. 

Maria Edgeworth says, ' We are disgusted when 
we see a woman's mind overwhelmed with a torrent 
of learning ; that the tide of literature has passed 
over it should be betrayed only by its fertility.' This 
is beautiful and true ; but is it not likewise applica- 
ble to man ? The truly great never seek to display 
themselves. If they carry their heads high above 
the crowd, it is only made manifest to others by ac- 
cidental revelations of their extended vision, f Hu- 
man duties and proprieties do not lie so very far a- 
part,' said Harriet Martineau ; ' if they did, there 
would be two gospels and two teachers, one for man 
and another for woman.' 
21* 



246 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

It would seem indeed, as if men were willing to 
give women the exclusive benefit of gospel-teaching. 
' Women should be gentle,' say the advocates of sub- 
ordination ; but when Christ said, ' Blessed are the 
meek,' did he preach to women only 1 f Girls should 
be modest,' is the language of common teaching, 
continually uttered in words and customs. Would 
it not be an improvement for men also to be scrupu- 
lously pure in manners, conversation and life ? Books 
addressed to young married people abound with ad- 
vice to the wife, to control her temper, and never to 
utter wearisome complaints, or vexatious words, when 
the husband comes home fretful or unreasonable, 
from his out-of-door conflicts with the world. Would 
not the advice be as excellent and appropriate, if the 
husband were advised to conquer Ms fretfulness, and 
forbear Ms complaints, in consideration of his wife's 
ill-health, fatiguing cares, and the thousand disheart- 
ening influences of domestic routine ? In short, what- 
soever can be named as loveliest, best, and most 
graceful in woman, would likewise be good and 
graceful in man. You will perhaps remind me of 
courage. If you use the word in its highest signifi- 
cation, I answer, that woman, above others, has a- 
bundant need of it in her pilgrimage : and the true 
woman wears it with a quiet grace. If you mean 
mere animal courage, that is not mentioned in the 
Sermon on the Mount, among those qualities which 
enable us to inherit the earth, or become the children 
of God. That the feminine ideal approaches much 
nearer to the gospel standard, than the prevalent idea 
of manhood, is shown by the universal tendency to 
represent the Savior and his most beloved disciple 
with mild, meek expression, and feminine beauty. 
None speak of the bravery, the might, or the intellect 
of Jesus ; but the devil is always imagined as a be- 
ing of acute intellect, political cunning, and the fier- 
cest courage. These universal and instinctive ten- 
dencies of the human mind reveal much. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 247 

That the present position of women in society is 
the result of physical force, is obvious enough ; who- 
soever doubts it, let her reflect why she is afraid to 
go out in the evening without the protection of a 
man. What constitutes the danger of aggression ? 
Superior physical strength, uncontrolled by the moral 
sentiments. If physical strength were in complete 
subjection to moral influence, there would be no need 
of outward protection. That animal instinct and 
brute force now govern the world, is painfully ap- 
parent in the condition of women everywhere ; from 
the Morduan Tartars, whose ceremony of marriage 
consists in placing the bride on a mat, and consign- 
ing her to the bridegroom, with the words, ' Here, 
wolf, take thy lamb,' — to the German remark, that 
' stiff ale, stinging tobacco, and a girl in her smart 
dress, are the best things.' The same thing, softened 
by the refinements of civilization, peeps out in Ste- 
phens's remark, that ' woman never looks so interes- 
ting, as when leaning on the arm of a soldier :' and 
in Hazlitt's complaint that i it is not easy to keep up 
a conversation with women in company. It is thought 
a piece of rudeness to differ from them ; it is not 
quite fair to ask them a reason for what they say.' 

This sort of politeness to women is what men call 
gallantry ; an odious word to every sensible woman, 
because she sees that it is merely the flimsy veil which 
foppery throws over sensuality, to conceal its gross- 
ness. So far is it from indicating sincere esteem and 
affection for women, that the profligacy of a nation 
may, in general, be fairly measured by its gallantry. 
This taking away rights, and condescending to grant 
privileges, is an old trick of the physical-force princi- 
ple ; and with the immense majority, who only look on 
the surface of things, this mask effectually disguises 
an ugliness, which would otherwise be abhorred. 
The most inveterate slaveholders are probably those 
who take most pride in dressing their household ser- 
vants handsomely, and who would be most ashamed 



248 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

to have the name of being unnecessarily cruel. And 
profligates, who form the lowest and most sensual 
estimate of women, are the very ones to treat them 
with an excess of outward deference. 

There are few books, which I can read through, 
without feeling insulted as a woman ; but this insult 
is almost universally conveyed through that which 
was intended for praise. Just imagine, for a moment, 
what impression it would make on men, if women 
authors should write about their ' rosy lips,' and 
' melting eyes,' and ' voluptuous forms,' as they write 
about us ! That women in general do not feel this 
kind of flattery to be an insult, I readily admit ; for, 
in the first place, they do not perceive the gross 
chattel-principle, of which it is the utterance ; more- 
over, they have, from long habit, become accustom- 
.ed to consider themselves as household conveniences, 
or gilded toys. Hence, they consider it feminine and 
pretty to abjure all such use of their faculties, as 
would make them co-workers with man in the ad- 
vancement of those great principles, on which the 
progress of society depends. l There is perhaps no 
animal,' says Hannah More, ' so much indebted to 
subordination, for its good behaviour, as woman.' 
Alas, for the animal age, in which such utterance 
could be tolerated by public sentiment ! 

Martha More, sister of Hannah, describing a very 
impressive scene at the funeral of one of her Charity 
School teachers, says : l The spirit within seemed 
struggling to speak, and I was in a sort of agony ; 
but I recollected that I had heard, somewhere, a wo- 
man must not speak in the church. Oh, had she 
been buried in the church yard, a messenger from 
Mr. Pitt himself should not have restrained me ; for 
I seemed to have received a message from a higher 
Master within.' 

This application of theological teaching carries its 
own commentary. 

I have said enough to show that I consider preva- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 249 

lent opinions and customs highly unfavourable to the 
moral and intellectual development of women : and I 
need not say, that, in proportion to their true culture, 
women will be more useful and happy, and domes- 
tic life more perfected. True culture, in them, as in 
men, consists in the full and free development of in- 
dividual character, regulated by their own percep- 
tions of what is true, and their own love of what is 
good. 

This individual responsibility is rarely acknowl- 
edged, even by the most refined, as necessary to the 
spiritual progress of women. I once heard a very 
beautiful lecture from R. W. Emerson, on Being 
and Seeming. In the course of many remarks, as 
true as they were graceful, he urged women to be, 
rather than seem. He told them that all their la- 
boured education of forms, strict observance of gen- 
teel etiquette, tasteful arrangement of the toilette, &c. 
all this seeming would not gain hearts like being 
truly what God made them ; that earnest simplicity, 
the sincerity of nature, would kindle the eye, light 
up the countenance, and give an inexpressible charm 
to the plainest features. 

The advice was excellent, but the motive, by 
which it was urged, brought a flush of indignation 
over my face. Men were exhorted to be, rather than 
to seem, that they might fulfil the sacred mission for 
which their souls were embodied ; that they might, 
in God's freedom, grow up into the full stature of 
spiritual manhood ; but women were urged to sim- 
plicity and truthfulness, that they might become 
more pleasing. 

Are we not all immortal beings ? Is not each one 
responsible for himself and herself? There is no 
measuring the mischief done by the prevailing ten- 
dency to teach women to be virtuous as a duty to 
man rather than to God — for the sake of pleasing the 
creature, rather than the Creator. ' God is thy law, 
thou mine,' said Eve to Adam. May Milton be for- 



250 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

given for sending that thought ' out into everlasting 
time' in such a jewel setting. What weakness, van- 
ity, frivolity, infirmity of moral purpose, sinful flex- 
ibility of principle — in a word, what soul-stifling, has 
been the result of thus putting man in the place of 
God! 

But while I see plainly that society is on a false 
foundation, and that prevailing views concerning 
women indicate the want of wisdom and purity, 
which they serve to perpetuate — still, I must ac- 
knowledge that much of the talk about Women's 
Rights offends both my reason and my taste. I am 
not of those who maintain there is no sex in souls ; 
nor do I like the results deducible from that doctrine. 
Kinmont, in his admirable book, called the Natural 
History of Man, speaking of the warlike courage of 
the ancient German women, and of their being re- 
spectfully consulted on important public affairs, says : 
' You ask me if I consider all this right, and deserv- 
ing of approbation ? or that women were here en- 
gaged in their appropriate tasks ? I answer, yes ; 
it is just as right that they should take this interest 
in the honour of their conntry, as the other sex. Of 
course, I do not think that women were made for 
war and battle ; neither do I believe that men were. 
But since the fashion of the times had made it so, 
and settled it that war was a necessary element of 
greatness, and that no safety was to be procured 
without it, I argue that it shows a healthful state of 
feeling in other respects, that the feelings of both 
sexes were equally enlisted in the cause : that there 
was no division in the house, or the state ; and that 
the serious pursuits and objects of the one were also 
the serious pursuits and objects of the other.' 

The nearer society approaches to divine order, the 
less separation will there be in the characters, duties, 
and pursuits of men and women. Women will not 
become less gentle and graceful, but men will become 
more so. Women will not neglect the care and edu- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 251 

cation of their children, but men will find themselves 
ennobled and refined by sharing those duties with 
them ; and will receive, in return, cooperation and 
sympathy in the discharge of various other duties, 
now deemed inappropriate to women. The more 
women become rational companions, partners in bus- 
iness and in thought, as well as in affection and a- 
musement, the more highly will men appreciate 
home — that blessed word, which opens to the human 
heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps 
to carry it thither, as on an angel's wings. 

1 Domestic bliss, 
That can, the world eluding, be itself 
A world enjoyed ; that wants no witnesses 
But its own sharers and approving heaven ; 
That, like a flower deep hid in rocky cleft, 
Smiles, though 'tis looking only at the sky.' 

Alas, for these days of Astor houses, and Trem- 
onts, and Albions ! where families exchange com- 
fort for costliness, fireside retirement for flirtation and 
flaunting, and the simple, healthful, cozy meal, for 
gravies and gout, dainties and dyspepsia. There is 
no characteristic of my countrymen, which I regret 
so deeply, as their slight degree of adhesiveness to 
home. Closely intertwined with this instinct, is the 
religion of a nation. The Home and the Church 
bear a near relation to each other. The French have 
no such word as home in their language, and I be- 
lieve they are the least reverential and religious of 
all the Christian nations. A Frenchman had been 
in the habit of visiting a lady constantly for several 
years, and being alarmed at a report that she was 
sought in marriage, he was asked why he did not 
marry her himself. ' Marry her ! ' exclaimed he, — 
' Good heavens ! where should I spend my evenings!'' 
The idea of domestic happiness was altogether a for- 
eign idea to his soul, like a word that conveyed no 
meaning. Religious sentiment in France leads the 



252 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

same roving life as the domestic affections ; break- 
fasting at one restaurateur's and supping at another's. 
When some wag in Boston reported that Louis Phil- 
ippe had sent over for Dr. Channing to manufacture 
a religion for the French people, the witty signifi- 
cance of the joke was generally appreciated. 

There is a deep spiritual reason why all that re- 
lates to the domestic affections should ever be found 
in close proximity with religious faith. The age of 
chivalry was likewise one of unquestioning venera- 
tion, which led to the crusade for the holy sepulchre. 
The French revolution, which tore down churches, 
and voted that there was no God, likewise annulled, 
marriage ; and the doctrine, that there is no sex in 
souls, has usually been urged by those of infidel ten- 
dencies. Carlyle says, ' But what feeling it was in 
the ancient, devout, deep soul, which of marriage 
made a sacrament, this, of all things in the world, is 
what Diderot will think of for aeons without discover- 
ing; unless perhaps it were to increase the vestry fees. 1 

The conviction that woman's present position in 
society is a false one, and therefore re-acts disastrous- 
ly on the happiness and improvement of man, is 
pressing by slow degrees on the common conscious- 
ness, through all the obstacles of bigotry, sensuality, 
and selfishness. As man approaches to the truest 
life, he will perceive more and more that there is no 
separation or discord in their mutual duties. They 
will be one ; but it will be as affection and thought are 
one : the treble and bass of the same harmonious tune. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 253 



LETTER XXXV. 

February, 1843. 

A book has been lately published called the Wes- 
tover Manuscripts, written more than a hundred 
years ago, by Col. William Byrd, an old Virginian 
cavalier, residing at Westover, on the north bank of 
James river. He relates the following remarkable 
circumstance, which powerfully arrested my atten- 
tion, and set in motion thoughts that flew beyond 
the stars, and so I lost sight of them, till they again 
come within my vision, in yonder world, where, as 
the German beautifully expresses it, ' we shall find 
our dreams,'and only lose our sleep.' The writer says : 

1 Of all the effects of lightning that ever I heard of, 
the most amazing happened in this country, in the 
year 1736. In the summer of that year, a surgeon 
of a ship, whose name was Davis, came ashore at 
York, to visit a patient. He was no sooner got into 
the house, but it began to rain, with many terrible 
claps of thunder. When it was almost dark, there 
came a dreadful flash of lightning, which struck the 
surgeon dead, as he was walking about the room, but 
hurt no other person, though several were near him. 
At the same time it made a large hole in the trunk 
of a pine tree, which grew about ten feet from the 
window. But what was most surprising in this dis- 
aster was, that on the breast of the unfortunate man 
that was killed, was the figure of a pine tree, as ex- 
actly delineated as any limner in the world could 
draw it ; nay, the resemblance went so far as to rep- 
resent the colour of the pine, as well as the figure. 
The lightning must probably have passed through 
the tree first, before it struck the man, and by that 
means have printed the icon of it on his breast. But 
whatever may have been the cause, the effect was 
22, 



254 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

certain, and can be attested by a cloud of witnesses, 
who had the curiosity to go and see this wonderful 
phenomenon.' 

This lightning daguerreotype aroused within me 
the old inquiry, ' What is electricity 1 Of what 
spiritual essence is it the form and type V Questions 
that again and again have led my soul in such eager 
chase through the universe, to find an answer, that 
it has come back weary, as if it had carried heavy 
weights, and traversed Saturn's rings, in magnetic 
sleep. Thick clouds come between me and this 
mystery, into which I have searched for years ; but 
I see burning lines of light along the edges, which 
significantly indicate the glory it veils. 

I sometimes think electricity is the medium which 
puts man into relation with all things, enabling him 
to act on all, and receive from all. It is now well 
established as a scientific fact, though long regarded 
as an idle superstition, that some men can ascertain 
the vicinity of water, under ground, by means of a 
divining rod. Thouvenel, and other scientific men in 
France, account for it by supposing that ' the water 
forms with the earth above it, and the fluids of the 
human body, a galvanic circle? The human body 
is said to be one of the best conductors yet discover- 
ed, and nervous or debilitated persons to be better 
conductors than those in sound health. If the body 
of the operator be a very good conductor, the rod in 
his hand will be forcibly drawn toward the earth, 
whenever he approaches a vein of water, that lies 
near the surface. If silk gloves or stockings are 
worn, the attraction is interrupted ; and it varies in 
degree, according as any substances between the wa- 
ter and the hand of the operator are more or less 
good conductors of the galvanic fluid. 

Everybody knows what a frightful imitation of 
life can be produced in a dead body by the galvanic 
battery. 

The animal magnetizer often feels as if strength 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 255 

had gone out of him ; and it is very common for per- 
sons in magnetic sleep to speak of bright emanations 
from the fingers which are making passes over them. 
What is this invisible, all-pervading essence, 
which thus has power to put man into communica- 
tion with all 7 That man contains the universe with- 
in himself, philosophers conjectured ages ago ; and 
therefore named him ' the microcosm.' If man led 
a true life, he would, doubtless, come into harmoni- 
ous relation with all forms of being, and thus his 
instincts would be universal, and far more certain 
and perfect, than those of animals. The bird knows 
what plant will cure the bite of a serpent ; and if 
man led a life as true to the laws of his being, as 
the bird does to hers, he would have no occasion to 
study medicine, for, he would at once perceive the 
medicinal quality of every herb and mineral. His 
inventions are, in fact, only discoveries ; for all exis- 
ted, before he applied it, and called it his own. The 
upholsterer-bee had a perfect cutting instrument, 
ages before scissors were invented ; the mason-bee 
cemented pebbles together, for his dwelling, centu- 
ries before houses were built with stone and mortar ; 
the wasp of Cayenne made her nest of beautiful 
white card paper, cycles before paper was invented ; 
the lightning knew how to print images, seons before 
Monsieur Da guerre found out half the process, viz : 
the form without the colour ; the bee knew how to 
take up the least possible room in the construction of 
her cells, long before mathematicians discovered that 
she had worked out the problem perfectly ; and I 
doubt not fishes had the very best of submarine re- 
flectors, before Mrs. Mather invented her ocean 
telescope, which shows a pin distinctly on the muddy 
bottom of the bay. 

I cannot recall the name of the ancient philoso- 
pher, who spent his days in watching insects and 
other animals, that he might gather hints to fashion 
tools ; but the idea has long been familiar to my 



256 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK 

mind, that every conceivable thing which has been, 
or will be invented, already exists in nature, in some 
form or other. Man alone can reproduce all things 
of creation ; because he contains the whole in him- 
self, and all forms of being flow into his as a com- 
mon centre. 

Of what spiritual thing is electricity the type ? Is 
there a universal medium by which all things of spi- 
rit act on the soul, as matter on the body by means 
of electricity ? And is that medium the will, wheth- 
er of angels or of men 1 Wonderful stories are told 
of early Friends, how they were guided by a sudden 
and powerful impulse, to avoid some particular 
bridge, or leave some particular house, and sub- 
sequent events showed that danger was there. 
Many people consider this fanaticism ; but I have 
faith in it. I believe the most remarkable of these 
accounts give but a faint idea of the perfection to 
which man's moral and physical instincts might at- 
tain, if his life were obedient and true. 

Though in vigorous health, I am habitually affect- 
ed by the weather. I never indulge gloomy thoughts ; 
but resolutely turn away my gaze from the lone 
stubble waving in the autumn wind, and think only 
of the ripe, golden seed which the sower will go 
forth to sow. But when to the dreariness of depart- 
ing summer is added a week of successive rains ; 
when day after day, the earth under foot is slippery 
mud, and the sky over head like grey marble, then 
my nature yields itself prisoner to utter melancholy. 
I am ashamed to confess it, and hundreds of times 
have struggled desperately against it, unwilling to 
be conquered by the elements looking at me with an 
1 evil eye.' But so it is — a protracted rain always 
convinces me that I never did any good, and never 
can do any ; that I love nobody, and nobody loves 
me. I have heard that Dr. Franklin acknowledges 
a similar effect on himself, and philosophically con- 
jectures the physical cause. He says animal spirits 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 257 

depend greatly on the presence of electricity in our 
bodies ; and during long-continued rain, the damp- 
ness of the atmosphere absorbs a large portion of it ; 
for this reason, he advises that a silk waistcoat be 
worn next the skin : silk being a non-conductor of 
electricity. Perhaps this precaution might diminish 
the number of suicides in the foggy month of Novem- 
ber, ' when Englishmen are so prone to hang and 
drown themselves.' 

Animal magnetism is connected, in some unex- 
plained way, with electricity. All those who have 
tried it, are aware that there is a metallic feeling 
occasioned by the magnetic passes — a sort of attrac- 
tion, as one might imagine the magnet and the steel 
to feel when brought near each other. The magne- 
tizer passes his hands over the subject, without 
touching, and at the end of each operation shakes 
them, precisely as if he were conducting off electric 
fluid. If this is the actual effect, the drowsiness, 
stupor, and final insensibility, may be occasioned 
by a cause similar to that which produces heavi- 
ness and depression of spirits in rainy weather. 
Why it should be so, in either case, none can tell. 
The most learned have no knowledge what elec- 
tricity is ; they can only tell what it does, not how it 
does it. 

That the state of the atmosphere has prodigious 
effect on human temperament, is sufficiently indica- 
ted by the character of nations. The Frenchman 
owes his sanguine hopes, his supple limbs, his untir- 
ing vivacity, to a genial climate ; to this too, in a 
great measure, the Italian owes his pliant graceful- 
ness and impulsive warmth. The Dutchman, on 
his level marshes, could never dance La Sylphide ; 
nor the Scotch girl, on her foggy hills, become an 
improvisatrice. The French dance into everything, 
on everything, and over everything; for they live 
where the breezes dance among vines, and the sun 
22* 



258 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

showers down gold to the piper ; and dance they 
must, for gladsome sympathy. We call them of 
' mercurial ' temperament ; according to Dr. Frank- 
lin's theory, they are surcharged with electricity. 

In language too how plainly one perceives the in- 
fluence of climate ! Languages of northern origin 
abound in consonants, and sound like clanging met- 
als, or the tipping up of a cart-load of stones. The 
southern languages flow like a rill that moves to mu- 
sic ; the liquid vowels so sweetly melt into each other. 
This difference is observable even in the dialect of 
our northern and southern tribes of Indians. At the 
north, we find such words as Carratunk, Scowhegan, 
Norridgewock, and Memphremagog ; at the south, 
Pascagoula, Santee, and that most musical of all 
names, Oceola. 

Climate has had its effect too on the religious ideas 
of nations. How strongly does the bloody Woden 
and the thundering Thor, of northern mythology, 
contrast with the beautiful Graces and gliding 
Nymphs of Grecian origin. As a general rule, — 
sometimes affected by local causes, — southern nations 
cling to the pictured glory of the Catholic church, 
while the northern assimilate better with the severe 
plainness of the Protestant. 

If I had been reared from infancy under the cloud- 
less sky of Athens, perhaps I might have bounded 
over the earth, as if my ' element were air, and mu- 
sic but the echo of my steps ; ' the caution that looks 
where it treads, might have been changed for the ar- 
dent gush of a Sappho's song; the sunbeam might 
have passed into my soul, and written itself on the 
now thoughtful countenance in perpetual smiles. 

Do you complain of this, as you do of phrenology, 
and say that it favours fatalism too much 'I I answer, 
no matter what it favours, if it be truth. No 
two - truths ever devoured each other, or ever can. 
Look among the families of your acquaintance — you 
will see two brothers vigorous, intelligent, and enter- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 259 

prising ; the third was like them, till he fell on his 
head, had fits, and was ever after puny and stupid. 
There are two sunny-tempered, graceful girls — their 
sister might have been as cheerful as they, but their 
father died suddenly, before her birth, and the moth- 
er's sorrow chilled the fountains of her infant life, 
and she is nervous, deformed, and fretful. Is there 
no fatality, as you call it, in this 1 Assuredly, we 
are all, in some degree, the creatures of outward cir- 
cumstance ; but this in nowise disturbs the scale of 
moral responsibility, or prevents equality of happi- 
ness. Our responsibility consists in the use we make 
of our possessions, not on their extent. Salvation 
comes to all through obedience to the light they have, 
be it much or little. Happiness consists not in hav- 
ing much, but in wanting no more than we have. 
The idiot is as happy in playing at jack straws, or 
blowing bubbles ail the livelong day. as Newton was 
in watching the great choral dance of the planets. 
The same universe lies above and around both. i The 
mouse can drink no more than his fill at the mighti- 
est river ; ' yet he enjoys his draught as well as the 
elephant. Thus are we all unequal, yet equal. That 
we are. in part, creatures of necessity, who that has 
tried to exert free will, can doubt ? But it is a ne- 
cessity w T hich has power only over the outward, and 
can never change evil into good, or good into evil. 
It may compel us to postpone or forbear the good we 
would fain do, but it cannot compel us to commit the 
evil. If a consideration of all these outward influ- 
ences teach us charity for the deficiencies of others, 
and a strict watch over our own weaknesses, they 
will perform their appropriate office. 

• There is so much of good among the worst, so much of evil in the best, 
Such seeming partialities in Providence, so many things to lessen and expand, 
Yea, and with all man's boast, so little real freedom of his will, 
That 10 look a little lower than the surface, garb, or dialect, or fashion, 
Thou ahalt feebly pronounce for a saint, and faintly condemn for a sioner.' 



260 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



LETTER XXXVI. 

March, 1843. 

I went, a few evenings ago, to the American Mu- 
seum, to see fifteen Indians, fresh from the western 
forest. Sacs, Fox, and Io was ; really important people 
in their respective tribes. Nan-Nouce-Fush-E-To, 
which means the Buffalo King, is a famous Sac chief, 
sixty years old, covered with scars, and grim as a 
Hindoo god, or pictures of the devil on a Portuguese 
contribution box, to help sinners through purgatory. 
It is said that he has killed with his own hand one 
hundred Osages, three Mohawks, two Kas, two Sioux, 
and one Pawnee ; and if we may judge by his organ 
of destructiveness, the story is true ; a more enor- 
mous bump I never saw in that region of the skull. 
He speaks nine Indian dialects, has visited almost 
every existing tribe of his race, and is altogether a 
remarkable personage. Mon-To-Gah, the White 
Bear, wears a medal from President Monroe, for cer- 
tain services rendered to the whites. Wa-Con-Tc- 
Kitch-Er, is an Iowa chief, of grave and thoughtful 
countenance, held in much veneration as the Prophet 
of his tribe. He sees visions, which he communi- 
cates to them for their spiritual instruction. Among 
the Squaws is No-Nos-See, the She Wolf, a niece of 
the famous Black Hawk, and very proud of the re- 
lationship ; and Do-Hum-Me, the Productive Pump- 
kin, a very handsome woman, with a great deal of 
heart and happiness in her countenance. 

1 Smiles settled on her sun-flecked cheeks, 
Like noon upon the mellow apricot.' 

She was married about a fortnight ago, at Philadel- 
hia, to Cow- Hick- He, son of the principal chief of 
the Iowas, and as noble a specimen of manhood as 
I ever looked upon. Indeed I have never seen a 
group of human beings so athletic, well-proportioned, 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 261 

and majestic. They are a keen satire on our civil- 
ized customs, which produce such feeble forms and 
pallid faces. The unlimited pathway, the broad ho- 
rizon, the free grandeur of the forest, has passed into 
their souls, and so stands revealed in their material 
forms. 

We who have robbed the Indians of their lands, 
and worse still, of themselves, are very fond of pro- 
ving their inferiority. We are told that the facial 
angle in the 

Caucasian race is - - 85 degrees. 

Asiatic - - 78 " 

American Indian - - 73 " 

Ethiopian - - 70 " 

Ourang Outang - - 67 " 

This simply proves that the Caucasian race, through 
a succession of ages, has been exposed to influences 
eminently calculated to develop the moral and intel- 
lectual faculties. That they started first in the race, 
might have been owing to a finer and more suscep- 
tible nervous organization, originating in climate, 
perhaps, but serving to bring the physical organiza- 
tion into more harmonious relation with the laws of 
spiritual reception. But by whatever agency it might 
have been produced, the nation, or race that per- 
ceived even one spiritual idea in advance of others, 
would necessarily go on improving in geometric ra- 
tio, through the lapse of ages. For our Past, we 
have the oriental fervour, gorgeous imagery, and deep 
reverence of the Jews, flowing from that high foun- 
tain, the perception of the oneness and invisibility of 
God. From the Greeks we receive the very Spirit 
of Beauty, flowing into all forms of Philosophy and 
Art, encircled by a golden halo of Platonism, which 

* Far over many a land and age hath shone, 

And mingles with the light that beams from God's own throne.' 

These have been transmitted to us in their own 
forms, and again reproduced through the classic 
strength and high cultivation of Rome, and the 



262 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

romantic minstrelsy and rich architecture of the 
middle ages. Thus we stand, a congress of ages, 
each with a glory on its brow, peculiar to itself, yet 
in part reflected from the glory that went before. 

But what have the African savage, and the wan- 
dering Indian for their Past? To fight for food, and 
grovel in the senses, has been the employment cf 
their ancestors. The Past reproduced in them, most- 
ly belongs to the animal part of our mixed nature. 
They have indeed come in contact with the race on 
which had dawned higher ideas ; but hov; have they 
come in contact 1 As victims, not as pupils. Rum, 
gunpowder, the horrors of slavery, the unblushing 
knavery of trade, these have been their teachers ! 
And because these have failed to produce a high de- 
gree of moral and intellectual cultivation, we coolly 
declare that the negroes are made for slaves, that the 
Indians cannot be civilized ; and that when either of 
the races come in contact wLh us, they must either 
consent to be our beasts of burden, or be driven to 
the wall, and perish. 

That the races of mankind are different, spiritually 
as well as physically, there is, of course, no doubt ; 
but it is as the difference between trees of the same 
forest, not as between trees and minerals. The fa- 
cial angle and shape of the head, is various in races 
and nations; but these are the effects of spiritual in- 
fluences, long operating on character, and in their 
turn becoming causes; thus intertwining, as Past 
and Future ever do. 

But it is urged that Indians who have been put to 
schools and colleges, still remained attached to a ro- 
ving life; away from all these advantages, 

' His blanket tied with yellow string*, the Indian of the forest went.' 

And what if he did '] Do not white, young men 
who have been captured by savages in infancy, show 
an equally strong disinclination to take upon them- 
selves the restraints of civilized life ) Does anybody 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 263 

urge that this well-known fact proves the white race 
incapable of civilization 1 

You ask, perhaps, what becomes of my theory, 
that races and individuals are the product of ages, if 
the influences of half a life produce the same effects 
on the Caucasian and the Indian? I answer, that 
white children brought up among Indians, though 
they strongly imbibe the habits of the race, are gen- 
erally prone to be the geniuses and prophets of their 
tribe. The organization of nerve and brain has been 
changed by a more harmonious relation between the 
animal and the spiritual : and this comparative har- 
mony has been produced by the influences of Judea, 
and Greece, and Rome, and the age of chivalry ; 
though of all these things the young man never heard. 

Similar influences brought to bear on the Indians 
or the Africans, as a race, would gradually change 
the structure of their skulls, and enlarge their per- 
ceptions of moral and intellectual truth. The same 
influences cannot be brought to bear upon them ; for 
their Past is not our Past ; and of course never can 
be. But let ours mingle with theirs, and you will 
find the result variety, without inferiority. They 
will be flutes on different notes, and so harmonize the 
better. 

And how is this elevation of all races to be effect- 
ed ? By that which worketh all miracles, in the 
name of Jesus — The law of love. We must not 
teach as superiours ; we must love as brothers. Here 
is the great deficiency in all our efforts for the igno- 
rant and the criminal. We stand apart from them, 
and expect them to feel grateful for our condescen- 
sion in noticing them at all. We do not embrace 
them warmly with our sympathies, and put our souls 
into their soul's stead. 

But even under this great disadvantage ; accus- 
tomed to our smooth, deceitful talk, when we want 
their lands, and to the cool villany with which we 
break treaties when our purposes are gained; receiv- 



264 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ing gunpowder and rum from the very hands which 
retain from them all the better influences of civilized 
life ; cheated by knavish agents, cajoled by govern- 
ment, and hunted with bloodhounds — still, under all 
these disadvantages, the Indians have shown that 
they can be civilized. Of this, the Choctaws and 
Cherokees are admirable proofs. Both these tribes 
have a regularly-organized, systematic government, 
in the democratic form, and a printed constitution. 
The right of trial by jury, and other principles of a 
free government, are established on a permanent ba- 
sis. They have good farms, cotton-gins, saw-mills, 
schools, and churches. Their dwellings are gener- 
ally comfortable, and some of them are handsome. 
The last annual message of the chief of the Chero- 
kees is a highly interesting document, which would 
not compare disadvantageously with any of our gover- 
nors' messages. It states that more than $2,500,000 
are due to them from the United States ; and re- 
commends that this sum be obtained, and in part 
distributed among the people ; but that the interest 
of the school fund be devoted to the maintenance of 
schools, and the diffusion of knowledge. 

There was a time when oar ancestors, the ancient 
Britons, went nearly without clothing, painted their 
bodies in fantastic fashion, offered up human victims 
to uncouth idols, and lived in hollow trees, or rude 
habitations, which we should now consider unfit for 
cattle. Making all due allowance for the different 
state of the world, it is much to be questioned wheth- 
er they made more rapid advancement than the Cher- 
okees and Choctaws. 

It always fills me with sadness to see Indians sur- 
rounded by the false environment of civilized life ; 
but I never felt so deep a sadness, as I did in look- 
ing upon these western warriors ; for they were evi- 
dently the noblest of their dwindling race, unused to 
restraint, accustomed to sleep beneath the stars. And 
-here they were, set up for a two-shilling show, with 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 265 

monkeys, flamingoes, dancers, and buffoons ! If 
they understood our modes of society well enough to 
be aware of their degraded position, they would 
doubtless quit it, with burning indignation at the in- 
sult. But as it is, they allow women to examine 
their beads, and children to play with their wam- 
pum, with the most philosophic indifference. In 
their imperturbable countenances, I thought I could 
once or twice detect a slight expression of scorn at 
the eager curiosity of the crowd. The Albiness, a 
short woman, with pink eyes, and hair like white 
floss, was the only object that visibly amused them. 
The young chiefs nodded to her often, and exchang- 
ed smiling remarks with each other, as they looked 
at her. Upon all the buffooneries and legerdemain 
tricks of the Museum, they gazed as unmoved as 
John Knox himself would have done. I would have 
given a good deal to know their thoughts, as mimic 
cities, and fair}' grottoes, and mechanical dancing 
figures, rose and sunk before them. The mechani- 
cal figures were such perfect imitations of life, and 
went through so many wonderful evolutions, that 
they might well surprise even those accustomed to 
the marvels of mechanism. But Indians, who pay 
religious honours to venerable rocks, and moss-grown 
trees, who believe that brutes have souls, as well as 
men, and that ail nature is filled with spirits, might 
well doubt whether there was not here some super- 
natural agency, either good or evil. I would suffer 
almost anything, if my soul could be transmigrated 
into the She Wolf, or the Productive Pumpkin, and 
their souls pass consciously into my frame, for a few 
days, that I might experience the fashion of their 
thoughts and feelings. Was there ever such a fool- 
ish wish ! The soul is Me, and is Thee. I might 
as well put on their blankets, as their bodies, for pur- 
poses of spiritual insight. In that other world, shall 
we be enabled to know exactly how heaven, and 
23 



266 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

earth, and hell, appear to other persons, nations, and 
tribes } I would it might be so ; for 1 have an in- 
tense desire for such revelations. I do not care to 
travel to Rome, or St. Petersburg, because I can only 
look at people ; and I want to look into them, and 
through them ; to know how things appear to their 
spiritual eyes, and sound to their spiritual ears. 
This is a universal want ; hence the intense interest 
taken in autobiography, by all classes of readers. 
Oh, if any one had but the courage to write the 
to hole truth of himself, undisguised, as it appears 
before the eye of God and angels, the world 
would read it, and it would soon be translated 
into all the dialects of the universe. 

But these children of the forest do not even give 
us glimpses of their inner life ; for they consider that 
the body was given to conceal the emotions of the 
soul. The stars look down into their hearts, as into 
mine; the broad ocean, glittering in the moonbeams, 
speaks to them of the Infinite ; and doubtless the 
wild flowers and the sea-shells ' talk to them a 
thought.' But what thoughts, what revelations of 
the Infinite ] This would I give the world to know ; 
but the world cannot buy an answer. 

How foreign is my soul to that of the beautiful 
Do-Hum-Me ! How helpless should 1 be in situations 
where she would be a heroine ; and how little could 
she comprehend my eager thought, which seeks the 
creative three-in-one throughout the universe, and 
finds it in every blossom and every mineral. Be- 
tween Wa-Con-To-Kitch-Er and the German Herder, 
what a distance ! Yet are they both prophets ; and 
though one looks through nature with the pitch-pine 
torch of the wilderness, and the other is lighted by a 
whole constellation of suns, yet have both learned, 
in their degree, that matter is only the time-garment 
of the spirit. The stammering utterance with which 
the Iowa seer reveals this, it were worth a kingdom 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 267 

to hear, if we could but borrow the souls of his 
tribe, while they listen to his visions. 

It is a general trait with the Indian tribes to recog- 
nise the Great Spirit in every little child. They 
rarely refuse a child anything. When their revenge 
is most implacable, a little one is often sent to them, 
adorned with flowers and shells, and taught to lisp 
a prayer that the culprit may be forgiven ; and such 
mediation is rarely without effect, even on the stern- 
est warrior. This trait alone is sufficient to estab- 
lish their relationship with Herder, Richter, and oth- 
er spirits of angel-stature. Nay, if we could look 
back a few centuries, we should find the ancestors of 
Shakspeare, and the fastidiously refined Goethe, with 
painted cheeks, wolves'-teeth for jewels, and boars'- 
hides for garments. Perhaps the universe could not 
have passed before the vision of those star-like spirits 
except through the forest life of such wild ancestry. 

Some theorists say that the human brain, in its for- 
mation, 'changes with a steady rise, through a like- 
ness to one animal and then another, till it is perfec- 
ted in that of man, the highest animal. 7 It seems to 
be so with the nations, in their progressive rise out 
of barbarism. I was never before so much struck 
with the animalism of Indian character, as I was in 
the frightful war-dance of these chiefs. Their ges- 
tures were as furious as wild-cats, they howled like 
wolves, screamed like prairie dogs, and tramped like 
buffaloes. Their faces were painted fiery red, or with 
cross-bars of green and red, and they were decorat- 
ed with all sorts of uncouth trappings of hair, and 
bones, and teeth. That which regulated their move- 
ments, in lieu of music, was a discordant clash ; and 
altogether they looked and acted more like demons 
from the pit, than anything I ever imagined. It was 
the natural and appropriate language of War. The 
wolfish howl, and the wild-cat leap, represent it more 
truly than graceful evolutions and the Marseilles 
hymn. That music rises above mere brute venge- 



268 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

ance ; it breathes in fervid ecstacy the souls aspira- 
tion after freedom — the struggle of will with fate. 
It is the Future setting sail from old landings, and 
merrily piping all hands on board. It is too noble a 
voice to belong to physical warfare ; the shrill howl 
of old Nan-Nouce-Fush-E-To is good enough for 
such brutish work ; it clove the brain like a toma- 
hawk, and was hot with hatred. 

In truth, that war-dance was terrific both to eye 
and ear. I looked at the door, to see if escape were 
easy, in case they really worked themselves up to 
the scalping point. For the first time, I fully con- 
ceived the sacrifices and perils of the Puritan settlers. 
Heaven have mercy on the mother who heard those 
dreadful yells, when they really foreboded murder ! 
or who suddenly met such a group of grotesque de- 
mons in the loneliness of the forest ! 

But instantly I felt that I was wronging them in 
my thought. Through paint and feathers, I saw 
gleams of right honest and friendly expression : and 
I said, we are children of the same Father, seeking 
the same home. If the Puritans suffered from their 
savage hatred, it was because they met them with 
savage weapons, and a savage spirit. Then I thought, 
of William Penn's treaty with the Indians : 'the on- 
ly one ever formed without an oath, and the only 
one that was never broken.' I thought of the depu- 
tation of Indians, who some years ago visited Phil- 
adelphia, and knelt with one spontaneous impulse 
around the monument of Perm. 

Again I looked at the yelling savages in their grim 
array, stamping through the war-dance with a furi- 
ous energy, that made the floor shake as by an earth- 
quake ; and I said. These too would bow, like little 
children, before the persuasive power of christian love ! 
Alas, if we had but faith in this divine principle, 
what mountains of evil mieht be removed into the 
depths of the sea ! 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 269 

P.S. Alas, poor Do-Hum-Me is dead ! so is No- 
See, Black Hawk's neice : and several of the chiefs 
are indisposed. Sleeping by hot anthracite fires, and 
then exposed to the keen encounters of the wintry 
wind ; one hour, half stifled in the close atmosphere 
of theatres and crowded saloons, and the next, driv- 
ing through snowy streets and the midnight air ; 
this is a process which kills civilized people by in- 
ches, but savages at a few strokes. 

Do-Hum-Me was but nineteen years old, in vigor- 
ous health, when I saw her a few days since, and 
obviously so happy in her newly wedded love, that 
it ran over at her expressive eyes, and mantled her 
handsome face like a veil of sunshine. Now she 
rests among the trees, in Greenwood Cemetery ; not 
the trees that whispered to her childhood. Her cof- 
fin was decorated according to Indian custom, and 
deposited with the ceremonies peculiar to her people. 
Alas, for the handsome one, how lonely she sleeps 
here ! Far, far away from him, to whom her eye 
turned constantly as the sunflower to the light ! 

Sick, and sad at heart, this noble band of warriors, 
with melancholy steps, left the pestilential city last 
week, for their own broad prairies in the West. Do- 
Hum-Me was the pride and idol of them all. The 
old Iowa chief, the head of the deputation, was her 
father; and notwithstanding the stoicism of Indian 
character, it is said that both he and the bereaved 
young husband were overwhelmed with an agony of 
grief. They obviously loved each other most strong- 
ly, May the Great Spirit grant them a happy meet- 
ing in their : fair hunting grounds' beyond the sky. 



23* 



270 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK 



LETTER XXXVII. 

March, 1843. 

When I began to write these letters, it was simply 
as a safety valve for an expanding spirit, pent up like 
steam in a boiler. I told you they would be of ev- 
ery fashion, according to my changing mood ; now a 
mere panorama of passing scenes, then childlike prat- 
tle about birds or mosses ; now a serious exposition 
of facts, for the reformers use, and then the poet's 
path, on winged Pegasus, far up into the blue. 

To-day I know not what I shall write ; but I think 
I shall be off to the sky ; for my spirit is in that 
mood when smiling faces peep through chinks in the 
clouds, and angel-fingers beckon and point upward. 
As I grow older, these glimpses into the spiritual be- 
come more and more clear, and all the visible stamps 
itself on my soul, a daguerreotype image of the in- 
visible, written with sunbeams. 

I sometimes ask myself, Will it continue to be so 7 
For coming age casts its shadow before ; and the rar- 
est of attainments is to grow old happily and grace- 
fully. When I look around among the old people of 
my acquaintance, I am frightened to see how large 
a proportion are a burden to themselves, and an an- 
noyance to others. The joyfulness of youth excites 
in them no kindlier feeling than gloom, and lucky is 
it, if it does not encounter angry rebuke or supercil- 
ious contempt. The happiness of lovers has a still 
worse effect ; it frets them until they become like the 
man with a toothache, whose irritation impelled him 
to kick poor puss, because she was sleeping so com- 
fortably in the sunshine. 

If this state were an inevitable attendant upon 
advanced years, then indeed would long life be an 
unmitigated curse. But there is no such necessity 
imposed upon us. We make old age cheerless an4 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 271 

morose, in the same way that we pervert all things ; 
and that is, by selfishness. We allow ourselves to 
think more of our own convenience and comfort, in 
little matters, than we do of the happiness and im- 
provement of others ; and thus we lose the habit of 
sympathizing with love and joy. I pray God to en- 
able me to guard against this. May I be ever wil- 
ling to promote the innocent pleasure of others, in 
their oivn way, even if it be not my way. Selfish- 
ness can blight even the abundant blossoms of 
youth ; and if carried into age, it leaves the soul 
like a horse enclosed within an arid and stony field, 
with plenty of verdant pastures all around him. 

Childhood itself is scarcely more lovely than a 
cheerful, kind, sunshiny old age. 

( How I love the mellow sage, 

Smiling through the veil of age ! 

And whene'er this man of years 

In the dance of joy appears, 

Age is on his temples hung, 

But his heart — his heart is young ! ' 

Here is the great secret of a bright and green old 
age. When Tithonus asked for an eternal life in the 
body, and found, to his sorrow, that immortal youth 
was not included in the bargain, it surely was be- 
cause he forgot to ask the perpetual gift of loving 
and sympathizing. 

Next to this, is an intense affection for nature, and 
for all simple things. A human heart can never grow 
old, if it takes a lively interest in the pairing of 
birds, the re-production of flowers, and the changing 
tints of autumn-ferns. Nature, unlike other friends, 
has an exhaustless meaning, which one sees and 
hears more distinctly, the more they are enamoured 
of her. Blessed are they who hear it ; for through 
tones comes the most inward perceptions of the spirit. 
Into the ear of the soul, which reverently listens, 
Nature whispers, speaks, or warbles, most heavenly 
arcana. 



272 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

And even they who seek her only through science, 
receive a portion of her own tranquillity, and perpet- 
ual youth. The happiest old man I ever saw, was 
one who knew how the mason-bee builds his cell, and 
how every bird lines her nest; who found pleasure 
in a sea-shore pebble, as boys do in new marbles : 
and who placed every glittering mineral in a focus of 
light, under a kaleidescope of his own construction. 
The effect was like the imagined riches of fairy land ; 
and when an admiring group of happy young peo- 
ple gathered round it, the heart of the good old man 
leapt like the heart of a child. The laws of nature, 
as manifested in her infinitely various operations, 
were to him a perennial fountain of delight; and, 
like her, he offered the joy to all. Here was no ad- 
mixture of the bad excitement attendant upon ambi- 
tion or controversy; but all was serenely happy, as 
are an angel's thoughts, or an infant's dreams. 

Age, in its outward senses, returns again to child- 
hood ; and thus should it do spiritually. The little 
child enters a rich man's house, and loves to play 
with the things that are new and pretty, but he 
thinks not of their market value, nor does he pride 
himself that another child cannot play with the same. 
The farmers home will probably delight him more ; 
for he will love living squirrels better than marble 
greyhounds, and the merry bob o'lincoln better than 
stuffed birds from Araby the blest ; for they cannot 
sing into his heart. What he wants is life and love 
— the power of giving and receiving joy. To this 
estimate of things, wisdom returns, after the intui- 
tions of childhood are lost. Virtue is but innocence 
on a higher plane, to be attained only through severe 
conflict. Thus life completes its circle ; but it is a 
circle that rises while it revolves ; for the path of 
spirit is ever spiral, containing all of truth and love 
in each revolution, yet ever tending upward. The 
virtue which brings us back to innocence, on a high- 
er plane of wisdom, may be the childhood of another 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 273 

state of existence ; and through successive conflicts, 
we may again complete the ascending circle, and find 
it holiness. 

The ages, too, are rising spirally ; each containing 
all, yet ever ascending. Hence, all our new things 
are old, and yet they are new. Some truth known 
to the ancients meets us on a higher plane, and we 
do not recognize it, because it is like a child of earth, 
which has passed upward and become an angel. 
Nothing of true beauty ever passes aw T ay. The youth 
of the world, which Greece embodied in immortal 
marble, will return in the circling Ages, as innocence 
comes back in virtue ; but it shall return filled with 
a higher life ; and that, too, shall point upward. 
Thus shall the Arts be glorified. Beethoven's music 
prophesies all this, and struggles after it continually ; 
therefore, whosoever hears it, (with the inward, as 
well as the outward ear,) feels his soul spread its 
strong pinions, eager to pass ' the flaming bounds of 
time and space, '" and circle all the infinite. 

It is a beautiful conception of Fourier's that the 
Aurora Borealis is the Ear-tWs aspiration after its 
glorious future ; and that when the moral and intel- 
lectual world are brought into order by the right con- 
struction of society, these restless, flashing northern 
lights will settle into an intensely radiant circle round 
the poles, melt all the ice, and bring into existence 
new flowers of unknown beauty. 

Astronomers almost contemporary with Fourier, 
and probably unacquainted with his theory of re- 
constructing society, have suggested the idea of pro- 
gressive changes in the earth's motions, till her poles 
shall be brought into exact harmony with the poles 
of the heavens, and thus perpetual spring pervade 
the whole earth. 

It is a singular fact too that the groups and series 
of Fourier's plan of society are in accordance with 
Swedenborg's description of the order in heaven. It 
is said that Fourier never read Swedenborg ; yet has 



274 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

he embodied his spiritual order in political economy, 
as perfectly as if he had been sent to answer the pray- 
er, 'Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.'' 

Visions ! idle visions ! exclaims the man of mere 
facts. Very well, friend ; walk by the light of thy 
lantern, if it be sufficient for thee. I ask thee not to 
believe in these visions ; for peradventure thou canst 
not. But said I not truly that their faces smile 
through chinks in the clouds, and that their fingers 
beckon and point upward ? 



LETTER XXXVIII. 

March 17, 1843. 

Here it is the 17th of March, and I was rejoicing 
that winter had but a fortnight longer to live, and 
imagination already began to stir its foot among last 
year's fallen leaves, in search of the hidden fragrant 
treasures of the trailing arbutus — when lo, there comes 
a snow-storm, the wildest and most beautiful of the 
season ! The snow-spirit has been abroad, career- 
ing on the wings of the wind, in the finest style im- 
aginable ; throwing diamonds and ermine mantles 
around him, with princely prodigality. 

' And when his hours are numbered, and the world 
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not, 
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art 
To mimic, in slow structures, stone by stone, 
Built in an age, the mad wind's night work, 
The frolic architecture of the snow.' 

I had wealth of fairy splendor on my windows this 
morning. Alpine heights, cathedral spires, and glit- 
tering grottoes. It reminded me of the days of my 
youth, when on the shores the Kennebec I used to 
watch to see ' the river go down,' as the rafters ex- 
pressed it. A magnificent spectacle it was, in those 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 275 

seasons when huge masses of ice were loosened by 
sudden warmth, and came tumbling over the falls, 
to lie broken into a thousand fantastic shapes of 
beauty. Trees, mountains, turrets, spires, broken 
columns, went sailing along, glancing and glittering 
in the moonlight, like petrified Fata-Morgana of Ital- 
ian skies, with the rainbows frozen out. And here I 
had it painted in crystal, by the w 7 ild artist whom 
I heard at his work in the night-time, between my 
dreams, as he went by with the whistling storm. 

' Nature, dear goddess,' is so beautiful ! cihcays 
so beautiful ! Every little flake of the snow is such 
a perfect crystal : and they fall together so graceful- 
ly, as if fairies of the air caught water-drops, and 
made them into artificial flowers to garland the wings 
of the wind ! Oh, it is the saddest of all things, that 
even one human soul should dimly perceive the 
Beauty, that is ever around us, l a perpetual bene- 
diction.' Nature, that great missionary of the Most 
High, preaches to us for ever in all tones of love, and 
writes truth in all colours, on manuscripts illumin- 
ated with stars and flowers. But we are not in har- 
mony with the ichole. and so we understand her not. 

Here and there, a spirit less at discord with Na- 
ture, hears semitones in the ocean and wind, and 
when the stars look into his heart, he is stirred with 
dim recollections of a universal language, which 
would reveal all, if he only remembered the alpha- 
bet. ' When one stands alone at night, amidst un- 
fettered Nature,' says Bettine, ' it seems as though 
she were a spirit praying to man for release ! And 
should man set Nature free ? I must at some time 
reflect upon this : but I have already very often 
had this sensation, as if wailing Nature plaintively 
begged something of me ; and it cut me to the heart, 
not to be able to understand what she would have. 
I must consider seriously of this ; perhaps I may 
discover something which shall raise us above this 
earthly life/ 



276 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

Well may Nature beg plaintively of man ; for all 
that disturbs her harmony flows from his spirit. 
Age after age, she has toiled patiently, manifesting 
in thunder and lightning, tempest and tornado, the 
evils which man produces, and thus striving to re- 
store the equilibrium which he disturbs. Every 
thing else seeks earnestly to live according to the 
laws of its being, and therefore each has individual 
excellence, the best adapted of all things to its pur- 
pose. Because Nature is earnest, spontaneous, and 
true, she is perfect. Art, though it makes a fair 
show, produces nothing perfect. Look through a 
powerful microscope at the finest cambric needle 
that ever was manufactured, and it shall seem as 
blunt as a crowbar ; but apply the same test to the 
antennae of a beetle or a butterfly, and thou wilt see 
them taper to an invisible point. That man's best 
works should be such bungling imitations of Na- 
ture's infinite perfection, matters not much ; but 
that he should make himself an imitation, this is the 
fact which Nature moans over, and deprecates be- 
seechingly. Be spontaneous, be truthful, be free, 
and thus be individuals ! is the song she sings 
through warbling birds, and whispering pines, and 
roaring waves, and screeching winds. She wails 
and implores, because man keeps her in captivity, 
and he alone can set her free. To those who rise 
above custom and tradition, and dare to trust their 
own wings never so little above the crowd, how 
eagerly does she throw her garland ladders to tempt 
them upward ! How beautiful, how angelic, seems 
every fragment of life which is earnest and true ! 
Every man can be really great, if he will only trust 
his own highest instincts, think his own thoughts, 
and say his own say. The stupidest fellow, if he 
would but reveal, with childlike honesty, how he 
feels, and what he thinks, when the stars wink at 
him, when he sees the ocean for the first time, when 
music comes over the waters, or when he and his 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 277 

beloved look into each other's eyes. — would he but 
reveal this, the world would hail him as a genius, 
in his way, and would prefer his story to all the 
epics that ever were written, from Homer to Scott. 

* The commonest mind is full of thought, some worthy of the rarest j 
And could it see them fairly writ, would wonder at its wealth.' 

Nay, there is truth in the facetious assertion of 
Carlyle, that the dog, who sits looking at the moon so 
seriously, would doubtless be a poet, if he could but 
find a publisher. Of this thing be assured, no romance 
was ever so interesting, as would be a right compre- 
hension of that dog's relation to the moon, and of 
the relation of both to all things, and of all things to 
thyself, and of thyself, to God. Some glimmering 
of this mysterious relation of each to All may dis- 
turb the dog's mind with a strange solemnity, until 
he fancies he sees another dog in the moon, and howls 
thereat. Could his howl be translated and publish- 
ed, it might teach us somewhat that the wisest has 
not yet conjectured. 

Let not the matter-of-fact reader imagine me to 
say that it is difficult for puppies to find publishers. 
The frothy sea of circulating literature would prove 
such assertion a most manifest falsehood. Nor do I 
assert that puerile and common-place minds are diffi- 
dent about making books. There is babbling more 
than enough ; but among it all, one finds little true 
speech, or true silence. The dullest mind has some 
beauty peculiarly its own ; but it echoes, and does not 
speak itself. It strives to write as schools have taught, 
as custom dictates, or as sects prescribe ; and so it 
stammers, and makes no utterance. Nature made us 
individuals ■, as she did the flowers and the pebbles ; 
but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society 
resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mould can- 
dles. Why should we all dress after the same fash- 
ion 1 The frost never paints my windows twice 
alike. 

24 



27S LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

As I write, I look round for the sparkling tracery ; 
it is gone, and I shall never see a copy. Well, I will 
not mourn for this. The sunshine has its own glori- 
ous beauty, and my spirit rejoices therein, even more 
than in the graceful pencillings of the snow. All 
kinds of beauty have I loved with fervent homage. 
Above all, do I worship it in its highest form; that of 
a sincere and loving soul. Even here in the city, a- 
mid bricks and mortar, and filth and finery, I find it 
in all its manifestations, from the animal to the 
godlike. 

This morning our pavements were spread with 
jewelled ermine, more daintily prepared than the 
foot-cloth of an eastern queen. Bat now the world 
has travelled through it, as it does through the heart 
of a politician, and every pure drift is mud-bespat- 
tered. But there is still the beauty of the bells, and 
the graceful little shell-like sleighs, and the swift mo- 
tions. There is something exhilarating in the rapid 
whirl of life, abroad and joyous, in New-York, soon 
after a new-fallen snow. It excites somewhat of the 
triumphant emotion which one feels when riding a 
swift horse, or careering on the surging sea. It brings 
to my mind Lapland deer, and flashing Aurora, 
and moon-images in the sky, and those wonderful 
luminous snows, which clothe the whole landscape 
with phosphoric fire. 

But there is beauty here far beyond rich furs and 
Russian chimes, and noble horses, or imagination of 
the glorious refractions in arctic skies ; for here are 
human hearts, faithful and loving, amid the fiercest 
temptations ; still genial and cheerful, though sur- 
rounded by storm and blight. Two little ragged 
girls went by the window just now, their scanty gar- 
ments fluttering in the wind ; but their little blue 
hands were locked in each other, and the elder ten- 
derly lifted the younger through the snow-drift. It 
was but a short time ago, that I passed the same chil- 
dren in Broadway. One of them had rags bound 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 279 

round her feet, and a pair of broken shoes. The 
other was barefoot, and she looked very red, for it 
was pinching cold. ' Mary,' said the other, in a gen- 
tle voice, ' sit down on the door-step here, and I will 
take off my rags and shoes. Your feet are cold, and 
you shall wear them the rest of the way.' ' Just a 
little while,' replied the other ; ' for they are very 
cold ; but you shall have them again directly.' They 
sat down, and made the friendly exchange ; and a- 
way jumped the little one, her bare feet pattering on 
the cold stones, but glowing with a happy heart- 
warmth. 

You say I must make up such incidents, because 
you never see humanity under such winning aspects 
in the streets of New- York. Nay, my friend, I do 
not make up these stories ; but I look on this ever- 
moving panorama of life, as Coleridge describes his 
Cupid : 

< What outward form and features are, 

He guesseth but in part ; 
But what within is good and fair, 

He seeth with the heait.' 



LETTER XXXIX. 

April 27, 1843. 

There is a fine engraving of Jean Paul Richter, 
surrounded by floating clouds, all of which are an- 
gels' faces ; but so soft and shadowy, that they must 
be sought for to be perceived. It was a beautiful 
idea thus to environ Jean Paul ; for whosoever reads 
him with an earnest thought fulness, will see heaven- 
ly features perpetually shining through the golden 
mists or rolling vapour. 

But the picture interested me especially, because it 
embodied a great spiritual truth. In all clouds that 
surround the soul, there are angel faces, and we 



280 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

should see them if we were calm and holy. It is be- 
cause we are impatient of our destiny, and do not 
understand its use in our eternal progression, that 
the clouds which envelope it seem like black masses 
of thunder, or cold and dismal obstructions of the 
sunshine. If man looked at his being as a whole, or 
had faith that all things were intended to bring him 
into harmony with the divine will, he would grate- 
fully acknowledge that spiritual dew and rain, wind 
and lightning, cloud and sunshine, all help his 
growth, as their natural forms bring to maturity the 
flowers and the grain. 'Whosoever quarrels with 
his fate, does not understand it,' says Bettine ; and 
among all her inspired sayings, she spake none wiser. 

Misfortune is never mournful to the soul that ac- 
cepts it ; for such do always see that every cloud is 
an angel's face. Every man deems that he has pre- 
cisely the trials and temptations which are the hardest 
of all others for him to bear ; but they are so, simply 
because they are the very ones he most needs. 

I admit the truth of Bulwer's assertion, that ' long 
adversity usually leaves its prey somewhat chilled, 
and somewhat hardened to affection ; passive and 
quiet of hope, resigned to the worst, as to the common 
order of events, and expecting little from the best, as 
an unlooked for incident in the regularity of human 
afflictions.' But I apprehend this remark is mainly 
applicable to pecuniary difficulties, which, ' in all 
their wretched and entangling minutiae, like the di- 
minutive cords by which Gulliver was bound, tame 
the strongest mind, and quell the most buoyant spirit.' 

These vexations are not man's natural destiny, and 
therefore are not healthy for his soul. They are pro- 
duced by a false structure of society, which daily 
sends thousands of kind and generous hearts down 
to ruin and despair, in its great whirl of falsity and 
wrong. These are victims of a stinging grief, which 
has in it nothing divine, and brings no healing on its 
wings. 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 281 

But the sorrow which God appoints is purifying 
and ennobling, and contains within it a serious joy. 
Our Father saw that disappointment and separation 
were necessary, and he has made them holy and el- 
evating. From the sepulchre the stone is rolled a- 
way, and angels declare to the mourner, ' He is not 
here : he is risen. Why seek ye the living among 
the dead V And a voice, higher than the angels, 
proclaims, l Because 1 live, ye shall live also.' 

' There is no Death to those who know of life ; 

No Time to those who see Eternity.' 

Blessed indeed are the ministrations of sorrow ! 
Through it we are brought into more tender relation- 
ship to all other forms of being, obtain a deeper in- 
sight into the mystery of eternal life, and feel more 
distinctly the breathings of the Infinite. ' All sorrow 
raises us above the civic, ceremonial law, and makes 
the prosaist a psalmist,' says Jean Paul. 

Whatsoever is highest and holiest is tinged with 
melancholy. The eye of genius has always a plain- 
tive expression, and its natural language is pathos. 
A prophet is sadder than other men ; and He who 
was greater than all prophets, was ; a man of sor- 
rows, and acquainted with grief.' 

Sorrow connects the soul with the invisible and the 
everlasting ; and therefore all things prophesy it, be- 
fore it comes to us. The babe weeps at the wail of 
music, though he is a stranger to grief; and joyful 
young hearts are saddened by the solemn brightness 
of the moon. When men try to explain the oppres- 
sive feelings inspired by moonlight and the ever si- 
lent stars, they say it is as if spirits were near. 
Thus Bettine writes to Gunderode. 'In the night 
was something confidential, which allured me as a 
child ; and before I ever heard of spirits, it seemed 
as if there was something living near me, in whose 
protection I trusted. So was it with me on the bal- 
24* 



282 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

cony, when a child three or four years old, when all 
the bells were tolling for the emperor's death. As it 
always grew more nightly and cool, and nobody with 
me, it seemed as if the air was full of bell-chimes, 
which surrounded me ; then came a gloom over my 
little heart, and then again sudden composure, as if 
my guardian angel had taken me in his arms. — 
What a great mystery is life, so closely embracing 
the soul, as the chrysalis the butterfly !' 

The spiritual speaks ever to us, but we hear it at 
such moments, because the soul is silent and listen- 
ing, and therefore the infinite pervades it. All alone, 
alone, through deep shadows, thus only can ye pass 
to golden sunshine on the eternal shore ; this is the 
prophetic voice, whose sad but holy utterance goes 
deep down into the soul when it is alone with moon- 
light and stars. Under its unearthly influence, child- 
hood nestles closer to its mother's side, and the mirth- 
ful heart of youth melts into tears. It is as if the 
cross upreared its dark shadow before the vision of 
the infant Saviour. 

As we grow older, this prophecy becomes experi- 
ence. By the hand of Sorrow the finite is rolled away 
like a scroll, and we stand consciously in the presence 
of the infinite and the eternal. The Availing of the 
autumn wind, the lone stubble waving in the wintry 
field, the falling foliage, and the starry stillness, are 
no longer a luxury of sadness, as in the days of youth- 
ful imagination. The voice of wailing has been with- 
in us ; our loved ones have left us, and we are like 
the lone stubble in the once blooming field ; the leaves 
of our hopes are falling withered around us ; and the 
midnight stillness is filled with dreary echoes of the 
past. 

Oh, Father, how fearful is this pilgrimage ! Alone 
in the twilight, and voices from the earth, the air, 
and the sky, call, ' Whence art thou ? — Whither go- 
est thou?' And none makes answer. Behind us 
comes the voice of the Past, like the echo of a bell 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 283 

travelling through space for a thousand years ; and 
all it utters is, ' As thou art, I was.' Before us stands 
the Future, a shadow robed in vapour, with a far-off 
sunlight shining through. The Present is around us 
— passing away — passing away. And ive? Oh, 
Father ! fearful indeed is this earth-pilgrimage, when 
the soul has learned that all its sounds are echoes, — 
all its sights are shadows. 

But lo ! the clouds open, and a face serene and 
hopeful looks forth, and says, Be thou as a little 
child, and thus shalt thou become a seraph. The 
shadows which perplex thee are all realities ; the ech- 
oes are all from the eternal voice which gave to light 
its being. All the changing forms around thee are 
but images of the infinite and the true, seen in the 
mirror of time, as they pass by, each on a heavenly 
mission. Be thou as a little child. Thy Father's 
hand will guide thee home. 

I bow my head in silent humility. I cannot pray 
that afflictions may not visit me. I know why it was 
that Mrs. Fletcher said, ' Such prayers never seem 
to have wings.' I am willing to be purified through 
sorrow, and to accept it meekly as a blessing. I see 
that all the clouds are angels' faces, and their voices 
speak harmDniously of the everlasting chime. 



LETTER XL. 

May 1, 1843. 

The first of May ! How the phrase is twined all 
round with violets ; and clumps of the small Housi- 
tania, (which remind me of a ' sylvania phalanx' of 
babies,) and slight anemones, nodding gracefully as 
blooming maidens, under the old moss-grown trees ! 
How it brings up visions of fair young floral queens, 
and garlanded May-poles, and door-posts wreathed 
with flowers, and juvenile choirs hymning the return 



284 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 

of the swallows, in the ancient time ! The old French 
word Mes, signifies a garden ; and in Lorraine, Mai 
still has that meaning; from which, perhaps, the word 
maiden. In Brittany, Mac signifies green, flourishing; 
the Dutch Moot/, means beautiful, agreeable ; the 
Swedish Mio is small, pretty and pleasant : and the 
East India Maya is Goddess of Nature. Thus have 
men shown their love of this genial month by con- 
necting its name with images of youth and love- 
liness. 

In our climate, it happens frequently, that ' Win- 
ter lingering, chills the lap of May/ and we are of- 
ten tantalized with promises unfulfilled. But though 
our Northern Indians name June • the month of flow- 
ers,' yet, with all her abundant beauty, I doubt whe- 
ther she commends herself to the heart, like May, 
with her scanty love-tokens from the grave of the 
frosty past. They are like infancy, like resurrection, 
like everything new and fresh, and full of hopeful- 
ness and promise. 

The First, and the Last ! Ah. in all human things, 
how does one idea forever follow the other, like its 
shadow ! The circling year oppresses me with its 
fulness of meaning. Youth, manhood, and old age, 
are its most external significance. It is symbolical of 
things far deeper, as every soul knows, that is trav- 
elling over steep hills, and through quiet valleys, un- 
to the palace called Beautiful, like Bunyan's world- 
renowned Pilgrim. Human life, in its forever-repeat- 
ing circle, like Nature, in her perpetual self-restoring 
beauty, tells us that from the burial place of Winter 
young Spring shall come forth to preach resurrection ; 
and thus it must be in the outward and symbolical, 
because thus it is in the inward, spiritual progression 
of the soul. 

' Two children in two neighbour villages, 
Playing mad pranks along the heathy lees ; 
Two strangers meeting at a festival ; 
Two lovers whispering by an orchard wall j 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 285 

Two lives bound fast in one, with golden ease ; 
Two graves grass-green beside a gray church-tower, 
Washed with still rains, and daisy-blossomed ; 
Two children in one hamlet born and bred ; 
So runs the round of life from hour to hour.' 

Blessings on the Spring-time, when Nature stands 
like young children hand in hand, in prophecy of fu- 
ture marriage ! 

May-day in New York is the saddest thing, to one 
who has been used to hunting mosses by the brook, 
and paddling in its waters. Brick walls, instead of 
budding trees, and rattling wheels in lieu of singing 
birds, are bad enough ; but to make the matter worse, 
all New- York moves on the first of May ; not only 
moves about, as usual, in the everlasting hurry-scur- 
ry of business, but one house empties itself into anoth- 
er, all over the city. The streets are full of loaded 
drays, on which tables are dancing, and carpets roll- 
ing to and fro. Small chairs, which bring up such 
pretty, cozy images of rollypooly mannikins and mai- 
dens, eating supper from tilted porringers, and spill- 
ing the milk on their night-gowns — these go ricket- 
ting along on the tops of beds and bureaus, and not 
unfrequently pitch into the street, and so fall asun- 
der. Children are driving hither and yon, one with 
a flower-pot in his hand, another with work-box, 
band-box, or oil-canakin ; each so intent upon his 
important mission, that all the world seems to him 
(as it does to many a theologian,) safely locked up 
within th3 walls he carries. Luckily, both boy and 
bigot are mistaken, or mankind would be in a bad 
box, sure enough. The dogs seem bewildered with 
this universal transmigration of bodies ; and as for 
the cats, they sit on the door-steps, mewing piteous- 
ly, that they were not born in the middle ages, or at 
least in the quiet old portion of the world. And I, 
who have almost as strong a love of localities as 
poor puss, turn away from the windows, with a sup- 



c 



86 LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 



pressed anathema on the nineteenth century, with 
its perpetual changes. Do yon want an appropriate 
emblem of this country, and this age ? Then stand 
on the side-walks of New York, and watch the uni- 
versal transit on the first of May. The facility and 
speed with which our people change politics, and 
move from sect to sect, and from theory to theory, 
is comparatively slow and moss-grown ; unless, in- 
deed, one except the Rev. O. A. Brownson, who 
seems to stay in any spiritual habitation a much short- 
er time than the New Yorkers do in their houses. It 
is the custom here, for those who move out to leave 
the accumulated dust and dirt of the year, for them 
who enter to clear up. I apprehend it is somewhat 
so with all the ecclesiastical and civil establishments, 
which have so long been let out to tenants in rota- 
tion. Those who enter them, must make a great 
sweeping and scrubbing, if they would have a clean 
residence. 

That people should move so often in this city, is 
generally a matter of their own volition. Aspirations 
after the infinite, lead them to perpetual change, in 
the restless hope of finding something better and bet- 
ter still. But they would not raise the price of drays, 
and subject themselves to great inconvenience, by 
moving all on one day, were it not that the law com- 
pels everybody who intends to move at all, to quit 
his premises before twelve o'clock, on May morn- 
ing. Failing to do this, the police will put him and 
his goods into the street, where they will fare much 
like a boy beside an upset hornet's nest. This reg- 
ulation, handed down from old Dutch times, proves 
very convenient in arranging the Directory with 
promptness and accuracy : and as theologians, and 
some reformers can perceive no higher mission for 
human souls, than to arrange themselves rank and 
file in sectarian platoons, so perhaps the civil au- 
thorities may imagine there is nothing more impor- 



LETTERS FROM NEW YORK. 287 

taut to a citizen than to have his name set in a well- 
ordered Directory. 

However, human beings are such creatures of habit 
and imitation, tbat what is necessity soon becomes 
fashion, and each one wishes to do what everybody 
else is doing. A lady in the neighbourhood closed 
all her blinds and shutters, on May-day ; being ask- 
ed by her acquaintance whether she had been in the 
country, she answered, • I was ashamed not to be 
moving on the first of May ; and so I shut up the 
house that the neighbours might not know it.' One 
could not well imagine a fact more characteristic of 
the despotic sway of custom and public opinion, in 
the United States, and the nineteenth century. Elias 
Hicks' remark, that it takes ' live fish to swim up 
stream,' is emphatically true of this age and country, 
in which liberty-caps abound, but no one is allow- 
ed to wear them. 

I am by temperament averse to frequent changes, 
either in my spiritual or material abode. I think I 
was made for a German ; and that my soul in com- 
ing down to earth, got drifted away by some side- 
wind, and so was wafted into the United States, to 
take up its abode in New York. Jean Paul, speak- 
ing of the quiet habits of the Germans, says he does 
not believe they turn in their beds so often as the 
French do. O, for one of those old German homes, 
where the same stork, with his children and grand- 
children, builds on the same roof, generation after 
generation ; where each family knows its own par- 
ticular stork, and each stork knows the family from 
all the world beside. Oh, for a quiet nook in good 
old Nuremberg, where still flourishes the lime tree, 
planted seven hundred years ago, by empress 
Cunegunde ; where the same family inhabits the 
same mansion for five centuries ; where cards are 
still sold in the same house where cards were first 
manufactured ; and where the great-grandson makes 



288 LETTERS FROM NEW YOKK. 

watches in the same shop that was occupied by his 
watchmaking great-grandfather. 

But after all. this is a foolish, whining complaint. 
A stork s nest is very pleasant, but there are better 
tilings. Man is moving to his highest destiny 
through manifold revolutions of spirit ; and the out- 
ward must change with the inward. 

It is selfish and unwise to quarrel with this spiri- 
tual truth or its ultimate results, however inconveni- 
ent they may be. The old fisherman, who would 
have exterminated steam-boats, because they fright- 
ened the fish away from the waters where he had 
baited them for years, was by no means profound in 
his social views, or of expansive benevolence. 

If the world were filled with different tribes of 
Nurembergers, with their storks, w r hat strangers 
should we brethren of the human household be to 
each other ! Thanks to Carlyle, who has brought 
England and America into such close companionship 
with the.mind of Germany. Thanks to Mary Howitt, 
who has introduced Frederika Bremer into our 
homes, like a sunbeam of spring, and thus changed 
Sweden from a snowy abstraction to a beautiful and 
healthy reality. It is so pleasant to look into the 
hearts and eyes of those Northern brothers ! To be 
conveyed to their firesides by a process so much 
swifter than steam ! 

Do you fear that the patriot will be lost in the 
cosmopolite 7 Never fear. We shall not love our 
own household less, because we love others more. In 
the beautiful words of Frederika : ' The human 
heart is like Heaven ; the more angels ; the more 
room.' 






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